‘We have to get back into the Championship to get better refereeing’ – O’Neill
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s general manager of football operations, Lee O’Neill, says there is only one way the Blues’ can benefit from better standards of refereeing – and that’s promotion.
Town have found themselves on the end of several moments of officiating controversy since dropping into League One, with emotions still raw following Tuesday night's goalless home draw with table-topping Wycombe Wanderers at Portman Road.
Referee Alan Young (Peterborough) and young linesman Aaron Farmer (Colchester), both in the early stages of their EFL careers, failed to spot a Wycombe handball in the box early on, disallowed a perfectly legitimate Luke Chambers goal just before half-time and then awarded the visitors a late penalty for a foul which initially occurred outside the area.
Thankfully, Town keeper Tomas Holy produced a breathtaking spot-kick save to ensure it was honours even in a top-two clash that saw 11 yellows cards dished out altogether.
Fuming Blues boss Paul Lambert labelled the officials' performance as 'unacceptable', claimed 'if you want to referee this big football then you've got to have a bit of pedigree behind you - it's not Mickey Mouse football' and said he would be contacting Mike Jones at the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) to air his grievances.
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Meanwhile. Town striker James Norwood took to Twitter to say: "One of the worst performances I've ever seen from an official in 10 years of football. If he referees again it's a farce!"
Those midweek incidents follow on from the Blues having had strong shouts for the ball crossing the line in games against Accrington Stanley and Blackpool, with the last weekend's game also including a questionable penalty awarded against Chambers.
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Speaking at the recent Supporters' Club AGM, O'Neill said: "I think we've all seen there is a difference in standard of referees from the Premier League, to the Championship and into League One - it's similar to players when you look at it that way. Some of them aren't full-time anymore the lower you go down. It is difficult for them, but I think we have seen a difference in the standard.
"Yes, they are marked. They do have assessors at games and I'm sure things are picked up. Would we like that to be done quicker and to be done better? Yes we would.
"Ultimately we have to make sure we get ourselves out of this league and back into the Championship to get better refereeing."
Town take on League One rivals Coventry City, at their temporary home of St Andrew's, Birmingham, in the FA Cup second round on Sunday (2pm ko).