Thorpe to help Town stem the tide

JIM Magilton has called on Suffolk referee Mick Thorpe to help stem the flood of bookings the team has picked up this season and the official is delighted to help out.

By Derek Davis

JIM Magilton has called on Suffolk referee Mick Thorpe to help stem the flood of bookings the team has picked up this season and the official is delighted to help out.

While the Irishman is keen for his players to play with passion and not be a soft touch he is concerned that the club is getting an unfair reputation as a dirty side and is looking at ways of cutting down on the cards. One avenue is to invite Suffolk-based Football League official Mick Thorpe to chat with the players and perhaps even train with them.

Magilton said: “We are going to get Mick in and ask him what we can do to improve. He came in at the start of the season and we had a chat with him and it was very useful. The players asked him a lot of questions and he was very helpful. He was very open so we will ask him to sit down with us again.”

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As an Ipswich Town fan Thorpe is not allowed to take charge of any of their competitive matches, although he has taken charge of many friendlies and reserve team games and so has jumped at the chance to help the club once more.

Thorpe said: “The league encourages us to work with clubs in this way so I'm delighted to be invited. The main thing for players is to cut out cheap cautions. Public shows of dissent will also lead

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to bookings. Quite often a quiet word is fine but when a player is waving his arms around and making it obvious he is having a go at a referee then that is different.

“Persistent fouling is another and we usually get to five fouls before having to caution a player.

“As referees, we don't like to give cheap cautions because it could leave you with no choice later in the match but to show a red card.

“Ipswich have never been associated with getting a lot of cautions so this is unusual. I have not been able to see many games but, from what I have, I wouldn't say they are a dirty side.”

Thorpe admitted that old-fashioned common sense was not as easy to use in games now, as the officials have to conform to a rigid set of instructions or be punished.

He said: “We have to apply the laws of the game, if not then we will be given a game in a lower league the next time, so we have to look after our own interests as well.”

Magilton hopes, if clubs and referees can work closer together, then that will help everyone.

He said: “I would like to see even more referees forge relationships with their local club and get to know players better, train with them maybe have a spot of lunch together. It happens at some Premier League clubs and it doesn't go amiss.

“It has to be better than the situation we have at the moment where referees are handing out cards like confetti. Once again, we had six players booked in a game that did not warrant it. Even at Southend, a local derby, there was not a bad tackle in the match.”

Magilton has introduced a strict punishment for offenders and has promised to crack down on silly bookings.

He added: “I want us to be passionate and determined but we also need to be disciplined. That means avoiding dissent, kicking balls away, getting involved in stupid melees. It is not something we will tolerate.”

By the same token, Magilton feels a lack of consistency from some officials has punished Town.

“I felt Fabian and Sylvain were unfortunate with their bookings and, as for Gary Roberts' yellow card, that was a joke. We will present a tape to the referee and ask him to rescind a couple.”

Magilton, who was only ever sent off once in his long and illustrious career, admits he would not like to be a referee and agrees they have a difficult but important role to play.

He said: “It is a tough job and I wouldn't like to do it. Anything that we can do to help them, we should do. I'm an advocate of using technology to help officials

“There is not a coach here that wants to referee even our games - especially if I'm playing. We look at a tape of every game and referees should also look at their match and see where they might have done something differently.

“The most frustrating thing for all of us, players, managers, fans journalists alike, is the inconsistency of referees. Too often there is a case where one referee would not book a player for an offence, whereas another has. The inconsistency drives you potty and they need to look at that.”

Ipswich face a £10,000 fine after six players were booked at Plymouth, just 10 days after they had a half-dozen yellow cards at Southend. If the club's discipline is deemed worse than the average come the end of the season, they could be fined a further £50,000.

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