Assistant referee John Brooks has been dropped by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) over comments he made at the end of Manchester City’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last weekend.
The referee was due to officiate Tuesday’s FA Cup replay between West Brom and Queen’s Park Ranger but the PGMOL made the decision to drop him after he told Manchester City players “go and see” travelling away fans who had “paid 62 quid”.
The cost of ticket prices at the Emirates had been a topic of heated debate prior to the game which 900 (almost a third of their allocated tickets) were returned to Arsenal by Manchester City after a number of their supporters boycotted the game in protest at the fees they felt were too expensive.
PGMOL has since made a statement claiming that it made the decision to remove Brooks from the game this week to alleviate potential media pressure and speculation that he might be subjected to.
I’m inclined to suggest the organization did the right thing by seemingly protecting one of its own but, in many ways, the referee should have perhaps faced the consequences of his own actions. Players, managers, and fans are held accountable for theirs, after all.
It could be counter-productive too - In removing him, the PGMOL has increased media spotlight on him tenfold.
If he felt the need to express his opinion then no doubt he should stand by his beliefs – the inference was that £62 was too expensive. If that’s his belief and he chose to express it knowing full well there were cameras with microphones on him, he should also be prepared to take any opinions others have on him and his actions.
My personal feeling is that, even if he was joking, it is unprofessional of a referee to show any kind of leaning or bias towards any club or it's fans– whether that be on the club’s players, managers or financial affairs.
Had the PGMOL dropped him from the game as a form of punishment for his behaviour, that would be more understandable but they have insisted their decision was made to protect him.
We can all agree that £62 is certainly excessive for a ticket but there are many other factors and underlying issues linked to be examined and impartiality is important – especially from individuals whose job it is to uphold the accuracy and fairness of the game.
In that regard, I think PGMOL were right to drop referee John Brooks. Unfortunately, I think they did it for the wrong reasons.
What do you think about the decision?