David Healy fumes over costly refereeing decisions

Linfield manager David Healy.
Linfield manager David Healy.

Linfield boss David Healy has taken a swipe at the standard of refereeing in the Irish League.

The Blues were victims of another major howler in Friday night’s league game at Portadown when experienced whistler Arnold Hunter awarded Portadown a penalty kick after Marcio Soares appeared to slip when confronted by defender Mark Stafford.

Healy insists it’s time for referees to become accountable for their actions as some of their decisions could ultimately cost clubs thousands of pounds.

“It was a disgraceful decision,” said the former Northern Ireland striker. “That’s the sort of decision that could cost us at the end of the season. It’s becoming a farce.

“If players aren’t doing their job on the pitch they are dropped. If managers don’t do their job, they are accountable, but referees go out every week and make wrong decisions that could cost clubs thousands of pounds.

“Assessors go into the dressing room after games to talk to referees but nothing is ever publicised; we don’t know if they are criticising them or praising them,” he added.

“They should come out and say if a referee has made a mistake or if they were wrong. But they all sit on the fence and everything is brushed under the carpet. Who knows what goes on once that door is closed.

“I simply can’t understand why referees have their mics and earpieces, because they don’t appear to be used,” Healy said.

“Unfortunately on Friday night, Arnold Hunter was not in a good position to see the incident with Mark (Stafford) and Marcio Soares, but his assistant had a great view of it.

“He flagged for a corner kick and, even though Arnold could have taken the advice of his assistant who had a much better view, at no time did he consult him for advice.

“If that’s going to be the case then what is the point of wearing a mic? Mark Stafford and Reece Glendinnng were adamant there was no foul and that is why they confronted Arnold in the way they did. If it was penalty then fair enough.

“But if it was a penalty then Mark should have been sent off as it would have been an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, but he wasn’t even booked. None of it makes sense.”

Healy also points out that Portadown’s second goal was the result of a blunder.

“He added: Chris Casement hit the ball against Ross Gaynor’s chest, but Arnold awarded a free-kick for a handball without speaking to his assistant, who was beside the incident. Even if it did hit his hand, he was so close he couldn’t have avoided it.

“If I was a linesman, I think I would have just put my flag down and walked in because what is the point of being there. It appeared to me that Arnold wanted to do all four jobs.

“I spoke to the referee after the game and he said if it was a mistake, ‘it was an honest mistake’. That’s no good to me now, because it was easily avoided at the time.

“We’re at the stage when something really needs to be done. This inconsistency is at a really serious level in our game now,” Healy said.

“Every week stories are written about referees rather than football matches. It seems they are accountable to no-one.”