Barton proposal ridiculous – Poll

By Sam Sheringham
BBC Sport
Graham Poll shows Joey Barton a yellow card Poll shows Joey Barton – then of Manchester City – a yellow card in 2007

Former referee Graham Poll has labelled Joey Barton’s claim that players and clubs should be able to sue officials over decisions as “ridiculous”.

The Queens Park Rangers midfielder made the suggestion on Twitter following his red card in the 2-1 defeat by Norwich.

“I wonder how long it is before a football club sues a referee for making a bad decision?” Barton wrote.

But Poll told BBC Sport: “That is a ridiculous comment. The referee does his very best, just like a player.”

Poll added: “Are we saying that supporters should sue footballers who get themselves sent off or miss open goals?

“Of course we’re not. It’s a sport and it needs to be treated as such and that comment is, quite frankly, ludicrous.”

Poll also backed the use of video technology and cricitcised referees chief Mike Riley for being “anonymous” and leaving referees to “hang out to dry”.

  • Both Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill and Everton counterpart David Moyes agreed that the Blues should not have been given a penalty by Howard Webb in the 1-1 draw.
  • Lee Probert angered Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers in the 1-1 with QPR by denying them a penalty when Danny Graham appeared to have been fouled in the area.
  • Arsenal manager said Probert cost his side victory in the 2-1 defeat at Fulham after denying them a penalty and sending off Johan Djourou.
  • Frank Lampard was only given a yellow card by referee Peter Walton, despite a foul on Adam Hammill that even the midfielder said should have been a red card in the 2-1 win at Wolves.

Rangers captain Barton took to Twitter to air his grievances over his dismissal following an off-the-ball incident with Norwich’s Bradley Johnson in the 36th minute.

QPR are appealing against the red card after both Barton and his manager Neil Warnock said the officials had been “conned” into giving the 29-year-old his fifth career red card.

As well as hinting that he would take legal action against referee Neil Swarbrick, Barton suggested referees should have more access to video technology.

“Someone has to set the precedent to stop the game from being ruined, maybe I’ll be the first one. Can players sue referees?” he tweeted.

“There’s too much at stake to not have technology. Those 3 points yesterday could be the difference between Premier League survival and not. That equates to a lot of money.”

Poll, who described the Barton red card as “harsh”, believes allowing referees to refer crucial decisions to a video official would benefit the game.

“I think the question you need to ask is why are we not trying things or experimenting with things?” he said.

“I think it may well enhance the game and give the referee more credibility.

Referee was conned – Warnock

“If you look at the Thierry Henry incident [in a 2010 World Cup play-off against Republic of Ireland], Martin Hansson knew there was something wrong with that goal. All he wanted to do was get help and refer to see what was wrong with that goal.

“But that is a ref referring a decision as opposed to people challenging him.

“If coaches were allowed to refer decisions, they would use it tactically to break up play and challenge referees.”

Poll, who took charge of more than 300 Premier League games, believes top-flight referees are making too many mistakes following a spate of incidents over the Christmas period.

He said the current roster of 18 top level officials should be increased to ensure more pressure is on the referees to perform.

Poll, who famously issued three yellow cards to the same player during a 2006 World Cup match, said: “What shouldn’t be allowed to happen is complacency to come in, so you know just by pure numbers you are going to get a game every week or every other week.

“It should be that you fight for every game and you get it on merit.”

Poll also called on the Professional Game Match Officials Board and its general manager Riley to do more to protect referees from the constant barrage of post-match criticism.

“The boss of the referees – Mike Riley – is anonymous,” said Poll. “The referees are being being blamed for things and being left hung out to dry.

“If one referee is not doing very well, there is a problem with that referee, but if there is a series of clear errors across the board, surely you realise something is not quite right?

“People should be asking why a referee who makes a clear error one match is retained for the next match?

“What is being done between games to coach them? Why are we still sending two people to assess a referee and give them a mark out of 100 – isn’t that a bit antiquated given the fact we have video evidence?”