Referee’s performance ‘below standard expected’ says NIFL

Mervyn Smyth gives Gary Hamilton a red card.
Mervyn Smyth gives Gary Hamilton a red card.
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Referee Mervyn Smyth has been ‘dropped’ for two games following the referee observer’s report being reviewed by the Northern Ireland Football League.

Smyth produced ten yellow cards and sent four off including Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton and Linfield assistant Andy Todd in the Premier League clash at Mourneview Park on Saturday.

In a statement released today NIFL said, “The NIFL can confirm that following the receipt of the referee observer’s report referee Mervyn Smyth will not be considered for senior appointments for a period of two weeks. This will include the forthcoming League Cup quarter final where a new appointment will be made for the Ballinamallard United v Glentoran tie.

“The observer at Saturdays match has confirmed the performance of the referee fell below the standard expected in the Danske Bank Premiership. The referee was not alone in this respect given that two players and two coaches were dismissed for their own behaviour at the game. Whilst their actions can be reviewed by the IFA Disciplinary Committee, it is important that the referee is seen to be equally accountable.” said NIFL Chief Referee Officer David Malcolm.

“Mervyn Smyth will continue after this short absence to officiate at the highest level as he is one of our more experienced referees locally and of course retains his FIFA rating”.

At present the senior panel of referees consists of ten referees of which only eight of the panel were available on Saturday afternoon. With several of these officials having just refereed either Glenavon or Linfield in the past fortnight, the appointment of referees was even more restricted than normal. Given the calibre of the game it was felt appropriate that a FIFA referee was selected to officiate the game.

The NIFL Chief Refereeing Officer, David Malcolm, recently briefed the Premiership Management Committee on refereeing matters and in particular the challenges appointing from a small panel. These concerns have been discussed with the Irish FA who have recognised the concerns raised and have reassured the NIFL that they are working hard through their Referees Committee to develop the Senior Referees Panel.

In another initiative announced today the NIFL Premiership Chairman Gerard Lawlor has announced that clubs are to be given the opportunity to reflect on the performance of referees in a new pilot in the Danske Bank Premiership from December.

“Whilst referees will still be independently assessed by Irish FA Referee Observers, I want our clubs to have a say about the performance of the referees appointed to their games. It will give our clubs a voice that is often not considered when refereeing matters are being discussed,” said Lawlor.

“This initiative will see clubs asked to forward a short report 48 hours after each game, constructively analysing the referee performance. We will collate the reports and compare and contrast these with the formal assessments that are already completed and held by the Irish FA. This will allow us to see if the club feedback is in any way useful in complementing the Assessors report and helping support the development of our referees.”

The initiative will trialled for two months throughout December and January.