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Dropping a clanger – Reading Today Online

Referee Picture: Pixabay

When I first started refereeing, I was advised not to criticise any fellow referee.

There are however situations when it’s clear that a referee has made a mistake in the Laws of the Game.

Premier League highlights recently showed an error by a most experienced referee, of one of the Laws minor clauses.

A dropped ball is used to restart the game after the referee had stopped play for any incident other than a foul or other offence. It has been in the Laws of the Game for many years but in 2019 it underwent a major change, which I applauded.

Previously, to restart the game the referee would drop the ball between opposing players, who would compete for it.

It now depends on where the ball was when the referee stops play and who played it last. Inside the penalty area, or if the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area, the ball is dropped for the goalkeeper.

I must confess to doing this for many years if a player was injured. Referees should stop play if there is a serious injury or a head injury, but it is sometimes difficult to judge whether an injury is serious.

If the goalkeeper had the ball, the game could be stopped with minimum interference with the play. Now my actions are perfectly endorsed by the Law as it also says the ball is dropped for the goalkeeper unchallenged.

Today, if play is outside the penalty area, the ball is dropped where it was when the play was stopped, and it’s restarted by any member of the team who touched it last.

There is now no challenge for the ball, in fact all other players must remain at least four yards (four metres) from the drop. The player taking the drop, can kick the ball, pass it, dribble it, run with it. One thing they cannot do is score a goal direct. It must touch another player first.

At the Nottingham Forest v Liverpool match, the referee stopped the play with minutes to full time. Instead of dropping the ball to a Forest player as they were the last to touch it before the stoppage, he dropped it for the Liverpool goalkeeper in his own penalty area,

It is not possible to say whether this affected the result of the match, but within two minutes Liverpool scored the only goal of the game. Why the referee got it wrong we shall never know.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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