3 penalties in 3 games. Is this a refereeing crisis or consistency?
Rumblings on social media have been voicing their concerns over the back to back to back games where Luton Town have conceded penalties. Should Luton Town fans be concerned? Yes, but certainly not about our defence, who have not conceded an open play goal since West Brom blew into Town. The fans should be concerned about the state of refereeing in the EFL. I'm not debating the Osho pull down on Viktor Gyokeres, not being a penalty, it was an unfortunate situation that Gabe found himself in, against a crafty and rapid striker. However, back to back handball shouts resulting in penalties irks me, purely because of the lack of consistency coming out of the PGMOL and the EFL. Before I continue, I would like to get some Luton Town chat in before I go two foot the PGMOL. I'm not concerned about our defence, because they have looked fantastic, with the most recent back three of Osho, Lockyer and Burke looking spectacular and have been instrumental in bringing the ball out of defence in the wide positions. We have looked solid, which is a great fundamental to have when building a playoff chasing team. Sure it would be nice to score more goals, but I feel as if in the last third of the season, we are about to cook. The Professional Game Match Officials Limited or PGMOL, have been under recent scrutiny, due to a few very high profile blunders as a result of lines not being drawn on a VAR replay, meaning an offside goal was deemed onside. Lee Mason paid the price and was relieved of his position at the PGMOL, banished to never sit in the comfy VAR room at St George's Park ever again, great news! That's the Premier League sorted, let's give him a job in the EFL! Let's face it the standard of refereeing is at the lowest point that I can certainly think of, although it may simply be recency bias. VAR has been brought in to hold the match officials hand, and with unlimited replays, slow motion and an abundance of training, the referees at the top of the tree have literally no excuse to get anything wrong. What does that mean for referees on the branches below the very top of the tree, namely those who officiate in the EFL. They do not have the benefit of replays or slow motion, and if they have a player obstructing their view they have no chance of making an informed decision. They have to make a guess, ask a linesman who probably hard a much worse view of the incident, or simply get persuaded by players on the pitch. Luton Town, like Bristol City have grounds to be aggrieved this season, with both clubs being awarded one penalty apiece in the league so far. Why is this the case, well I haven't watched much Bristol City as I'm a glory hunter that is only interested in the top half of the Championship, but from the Luton perspective and having watched all our games this season (apart from the Sunderland game), there have been some absolute sitters that have been missed by referees in our games; Morris being used as a climbing frame and Clark getting hacked down when trying to impersonate Messi. The biggest gaffe that hangs around in my head, like a voice telling me to keep eating those hobnobs, is that McFadzean handball when Coventry played out a 2-2 draw against Luton at the Kenny. How the referee or linesman didn't see it? I saw it from the mainstand, and it looked far more intentional than either of Gabe's or Lockyer's hand balls that saw them give away penalties. With every EFL match being streamed on ifollow, there is no excuse as to why a VAR system can't be implemented across the EFL. The fourth official is there doing nothing except noting down substitutions, checking studs and getting the hairdryer treatment from both managers, why not stick a tablet in their hands with the game playing on it, and let them review the decision then and there in real time. It's a cheap way to go about it, no need to install other cameras and you get to replay the incident and get a fresh pair of eyes on it, just in case the referee is too proud to admit they don't have a clue what just happened. Right now, when a Premier League referee leaves a bit steaming pile of excrement in their bedsheets, they tend to get re-assigned to somewhere down the EFL pyramid to make their penance, before making it back to the promised land and being welcomed with open arms, prior to their next bed pooping episode and journey down the pyramid. We don't want Premier League cast offs. We want competent referees who are given the support to make the most accurate decision by being given all the tools that their colleagues dining at the top table are being given (or at very least a basic version of it). Right now Premier League referees and grounds are operating in 2023 (and still making a pigs ear of it), however, the rest of the EFL are operating in 1923 - technically 1891, which was when linesmen were introduced. It's time for referees to start making informed decisions. It's past the point of concern!