Over in Australia, referee Jarred Gillet officiated his final A-League game over the weekend ahead of his voyage over to the Championship.
‘What’s so special about that?’ you might rightly ask.
Well, the 32-year-old, who was the league’s referee of the year on five occasions, agreed to sport a live microphone for the duration of the game between Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar. The footage - see video below - is a real eye-opener as you, the viewer, can hear Gillet clarifying decisions with his officials, while he also interacts with VAR officials.
This is unheard of in football. However, it is of course nothing new in rugby which has mic’d up its officials for some time now, a process which allows all decisions to be heard by television audiences, while incidents are played back on big screens at the ground.
In football, referees are relentlessly vilified and berated due to the decisions they make, made worse by the fact that we rarely get to hear their side of the story. But, broadcasting the dialogue between officials would make for simply engrossing viewing as it would enable fans to understand why certain decisions are made, and the process the officials go through to reach an outcome.
Football is constantly evolving, as we've seen with VAR, and implementing microphones could be prove to be a positive step in the right direction for the sport.
It’s clearly evident that the whole VAR system needs smoothing out, which will take time. At the moment there are lengthy delays, resulting in confusion, frustration, and even outright anger as fans are left completely in the dark.
A-League ref Jarred Gillett had a live microphone for the entirety of his final game before leaving for the Championship 🎤
• Every decision explained
• Every chat with a player heard
Would you like to see something like this in the Premier League? 🤔
The system will be fully integrated into the Premier League next season and in order to aid the viewing experience, being able to listen to conversations between officials would clear up the confusion, well most of the time.
It’s obviously a different scenario for those present in the stadium, but one option could be a "Ref Link" earpiece service so fans could hear the conversations between players and officials, as is present in rugby, or launch an app of sorts.
The introduction could bring greater respect for officials - from both fans and players - and be beneficial in terms of clarity, while the scenes from an entertainment perspective could be sensational. Imagine showman Mike Dean on a microphone, it would be TV gold, while it may well have cleared up the whole Mauricio Pochettino controversy a few weeks ago!
This did happen before in England of course, back in the 1989/90 season when referee David Elleray was mic'd up for a game between Arsenal and Millwall, although there was a twist, the players weren’t told. This unsurprisingly produced a few gems with the Arsenal players frequently lambasting the headteacher who didn’t take kindly to being called a cheat by Tony Adams.