Perth Glory once again were the victims of a poor refereeing decision irrespective of whether they should have sealed the game prior to the last minute penalty being awarded to Melbourne Victory. The question is what is going to be done about it?
It is refreshing to hear coach Alistair Edwards who has only recently come out of the FFA’s employ quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying “I don’t want to come across as a grump but I can fully understand the rage that Perth Glory fans are feeling because it is happening far too often. The crucial decisions are going against the club. The fans are coming up to me and asking ‘why is it Perth Glory? Why isn’t it happening to Western Sydney, Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory?” A similar question that was asked on several occasions by former Glory coaches Ron Smith, David Mitchell and Ian Ferguson, but who were all told to stop whinging.
This writer is not a parochial supporter of all things Western Australian, but the FFA now have a serious problem. The perception has been for a long time that they are Sydney and Melbourne-centric, and that they would prefer to see finals played between teams from these two cities as it ensures a bigger crowd and is cheaper to stage in terms of flying staff, sponsors and other hangers on to the final. That perception is beginning to look like a reality.
They say that lightening does not strike twice in the same place, but in the A League it would appear to do so. Referee Jarrod Gillett who awarded a controversial penalty in the final minute of last years Grand Final to allow Brisbane Roar to take the title, – a penalty where we blamed the Glory defender for going to ground and giving Berisha the chance to dive – this year awarded one to give Melbourne Victory a last minute penalty to equalise. This one was never even close to being a penalty. Let us also not forget the controversial W-League semi final, where bizarrely after having walked back to the halfway line having had her penalty saved Melbourne Victory’s Jessica McDonald was told to re-take her penalty because the Glory ‘keeper, Kaitlyn Savage was deemed to have moved off her line. Replays proved the decision questionable. McDonald scored and Melbourne were in the Grand Final. A win to the Glory would have seen them host the Grand Final.
Club Captain Jacob Burns who has been a victim at times of reputation has spoken out, and is likely to be fined for his comments. A fine that hopefully the club will pay. “I don’t understand how a referee like Jarred Gillett gets our game again and how he can make such poor judgment once again.It’s ended our finals campaign and I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, but he’s got to hold up his hand and be accountable for some very, very poor decisions out there today for both teams.” Burns said and went on with “It can happen once, shame on us, but it’s happened twice,two years in a row in finals football. If this league wants to get better they’re going to have to start with the refereeing.It’s going the other way for me. That’s my personal opinion. It’s left a lot to be desired.”
It is time the club made a stand. This writer played in a cricket final many years ago in which the umpire made a decision that lost his team the final. The umpire admitted after the game that he had made a mistake – something it appears Mr Gillett is yet to do – and then admitted that he struggled to concentrate at times. Two years later we were in the final again, and the same umpire was appointed. A protest was lodged and the threat of not taking the field if he was umpiring was made. The said umpire being a decent man admitted what he had said two years before and stepped down. Perth Glory need to take a similar stance. Not only for the team and the fans but also for Gillett’s safety.
The frustrating thing is that there are solutions to avoid such things happening, including the one put forward on this site in 2009. See Blowing the Whistle.
The FFA can no longer bury their heads in the sand, the issue of refereeing standards needs to be addressed. The FFA also need to give serious thought as to how they can break down the belief held, not just in Perth, that the A-League, the FFA and Fox Sports are Sydney and Melbourne focussed. That will take a bit more work, but it needs to happen if the growing number of fans are to feel part of the game nationally.