I have the opportunity of watching a large number of grassroots games this year and witnessed some excellent displays of officiating. Not every referee takes up the whistle with the intention of wanting to become a professional or refereeing the FA Challenge Cup Final. Way back in 1960 there were no professional referees and the pyramid system consisted of Class 1,2 and 3 Within three years of taking up the whistle I would sit in the Referees Association meetings with many Football League and FIFA officials. We were all Class One referees.
Nowadays the Pyramid system moving from Level 8 to Level 1 (UK) in my opinion acts as a barrier to reaching the top.
We then operate a system where at a point in a promotion seeking official they have to decide if they are going to follow a path of being a Referee or Assistant Referee.
Whilst I recognise that running a line is a specialist task I see reason why we scrap the idea and allow match officials to move through a pyramid promotion system that operates with you being a referee at one level and an Assistant referee at the level above. Referees promotion should be Assistant first then referee. Yes a step back but one that operated successfully in the history of officiating.
One official who I admire is Darren England who reached FIFA International status has an Assistant referee. Having been involved in some prestigious games at home and overseas he decided he wanted to referee.
He had a reduced status, his overseas trips ceased and his earnings also reduced. However his bold decision has worked and he is about to officiate a Premier League game.
Before I close off this article I want to raise another point and that is to remind officials at grassroots level that the Sin-Bin is in operation and I have seen several opportunities to apply this sanction not used.
It was brought in to help you win respect and a deterrent against DISSENT.