Mark Halsey: It's the worst of all the poor refereeing decisions this season

REFEREE'S COLUMN: Jan Vertonghen was inexplicably denied a goal for Tottenham against Sunderland, while Arsenal's penalty against Manchester City has been deemed harsh
By Mark Halsey of


Of all the poor decisions we’ve seen in the Premier League this season, ruling out Jan Vertonghen’s late goal against Sunderland has been the worst.

It’s a very, very poor call from Chris Foy, who was only yards from the ball, could clearly see the pass and that Vertonghen was inside Tottenham's half as he raced away. For me, he’s as culpable as Adam Nunn, the assistant who raised his flag.

As has been the case on numerous occasions this season, the communication between the referee and his assistant was poor. After the ball went in, Foy should have consulted Nunn over the decision and overruled his assistant’s call, given that he was in an excellent position to see the incident and did not need to rely on anyone else to make the correct judgement.

Assistant referees get paid £800 per game in the Premier League and they should not be making mistakes as big as this. Nunn is only young and new to the top flight but I believe he’s being put forward by David Elleray, chairman of the FA referees’ committee, for the Uefa Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) course for assistant referees. If he’s making decisions like this, you have to ask whether he’s the right choice.

With FA Cup games next weekend, it’ll be interesting to see whether Nunn is taken out of the equation. As for Foy, who knows. There’s been certain times when officials have been left out for poor decisions, Lee Mason has been stood down since Boxing Day, while Mark Clattenburg has been dropped this season for his supposed errors.


I can fully understand Mike Dean's viewpoint given Vincent Kompany’s slight movement towards Nacho Monreal, but I think the decision to award a penalty to Arsenal was very harsh. In real time, I didn’t think it was the right call.

Aiden McGeady is serving a one-game ban and will miss Monday's clash with West Brom
Matty James is serving a three-game ban and will miss games against Manchester United & the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Tottenham.
Monreal knew what he was doing but with Kompany shaping himself to block, Dean was forced into making a decision. These situations are extremely difficult to judge and it’s based on instinct, sometimes players simply can’t get out of the way quick enough.

You either give them straight away or you wave play on - refereeing is an art not a science.

Overall, I thought Dean, who is one of the best referees in the Premier League alongside Mark Clattenburg, handled the game very well but there were a few yellow cards which he could have handled better.

He cautioned Laurent Koscielny after just three minutes and when you do that you could give yourself problems later on in the match.


John Carver is fighting for his life to get the Newcastle United job on a permanent basis and his cause isn’t helped after being on the end of a very poor decision from Robert Madley, another inexperienced Premier League referee.

I have no idea why referees with such a lack of experience are constantly being given televised games and subjected to a high level of exposure and pressure, while Mark Clattenburg’s last live game was Leicester City’s 5-3 win over Manchester United on September 21.

As handball decisions go, these are the ones you want as a referee. Jose Fonte knew exactly what he was doing, he moved his arm towards the ball and the call should have been an easy one.

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey was speaking to Chris Davie on behalf of You Are The Ref.
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