Top referee banned by Suffolk FA

ONE of Ipswich’s most well known and conscientious referees has been suspended indefinitely for poor administration.

Irvin Flaherty has officiated in the SIL and the Ridgeons League for 30 years but finds himself having a worrying Christmas and being idle when football returns after the current cold spell.

“I don’t know what I’ll do with myself,” he said today. “It will ruin my weekends.”

He was taken off last Saturday’s Haughley versus Capel Plough Omnico Cup tie, which was eventually postponed, after a decision by Suffolk Football Association to suspend him.

The level five official admits that he was late sending in details of a sending off and bookings he had made in a game in October.

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“I was having trouble with my e-mails, and when the FA got in touch I sent the information by post to County referee development officer Phil Knight,” explained postman Flaherty.

“But the FA says this was not received, and if I have made any mistakes they were honest ones and I have been left wondering whether the punishment fits the crime.”

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With a shortage of officials the ‘standing down’ of a regular experienced official like Flaherty will only increase the problems.

Explaining the reasons for the ban Knight, who takes over from Martin Head as chief executive of Suffolk FA in January, said: “Referees take a real pride in the work they do on and off the field and in most instances they act with absolute professionalism.

“In this instance, Mr Flaherty had been asked to provide an explanation for the late submission of misconduct reports.

“The reporting of misconduct is a key responsibility for all match officials and failure to attend to this task within the given time can cause serious disruption to clubs and leagues.

“Unfortunately Mr Flaherty failed to respond to the request and as a result the Suffolk FA had little choice but to suspend him with immediate effect.”

Flaherty’s explanation has now been received and the Suffolk FA referees’ committee will now review his suspension.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” added Knight.

“But Suffolk FA has a duty to the entire football community to ensure that all participants perform their duties to the very best of their ability.

“Suffolk FA takes great pride in the achievements of their match officials and takes comfort from the fact that incidents such as this are thankfully extremely rare.”

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