PGMOL clarify surprise referee appointment impacting Newcastle, Brighton and Liverpool
Newcastle United face Brighton & Hove Albion tonight in what could be a crucial battle for Champions League football.
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A win on Tyneside this evening would put the Magpies four points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool with just two games of the top flight season left to play. It would also all but end the Seagulls’ charge towards the CL places and go some way to cementing third place as their own.
And while the match itself is all set to be an engrossing, entertaining affair on the park, a top flight decision ahead of the encounter has certainly raised some eyebrows among the fanbase.
The match official this evening is set to be Robert Jones, no stranger to St James’ Park having officiated two games on Tyneside this campaign.
However, it is the referee’s connection to Liverpool that has people talking.
Jones is understood to be part of the Wirral FA and has never refereed a Liverpool or Everton match since being promoted as Premier League official ahead of the 2020-21 season. The Wirral is a borough of Merseyside and is situated just six miles away from Liverpool.
Liverpool are, of course, involved in the battle for Champions League football - and that’s led many fans to question whether given his geographical base, Jones should have been given this appointment, particularly with no other Premier League games on the night.
Previous visits to SJP
That said, in the two Newcastle matches Jones has overseen this campaign, Eddie Howe’s side have recorded 1-0 wins over Chelsea and Fulham at St James’ Park.
In the game against Fulham, Jones awarded a penalty to the visitors after reviewing a challenge by Kieran Trippier on Bobby Decordova-Reid at the VAR pitchside monitor.
Aleksander Mitrovic scored his penalty but Jones disallowed it after spotting the Serbian had kicked the ball twice before hitting the back of the net. Alexander Isak then scored an injury-time winner.
Jones will be assisted by Ian Hussin and Wade Smith. The fourth is Thomas Bramal, while Jarred Gillett and Adam Nunn are on VAR duty.
Calls for clarity - the Premier League and PGMOL respond
As a result, NewcastleWorld asked the Premier League and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) for clarity in relation to this appointment.
The Premier League and PGMOL both declined the opportunity to comment on the record. However, we were pointed towards rules by which these decisions are made.
When appointments are made, every official must declare allegiances, and will not be assigned to any of that team’s matches or certain other fixtures such as those involving direct rivals - based on location - of that club.
There are also said to be other factors that determine these appointments, including how many times an official has refereed each club in that season, which teams their immediate family members support and, of course, performance.
This may not be enough to appease Newcastle United fans, who have been outraged at the decision.
Above is just a snapshot of the responses to the news Jones will be the man in the middle this evening.