Jeff Winter: Not enough referees to alleviate pressure

Martin Atkinson
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Former referee Jeff Winter believes that errors are inevitable while governing a match due to the lack of match officials in England.

Former referee Jeff Winter believes that England's best match officials are likely to make mistakes due to the small number of them taking on high-pressure matches.

Referees have come under criticism for committing a number of blunders recently, one being what should have been a disallowed goal during Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, when match official Martin Atkinson awarded a goal to the Blues despite the ball not crossing the line.

"The problem is that now there are only 16 referees in the elite group, from whom all the Premier League and top cup games are chosen," Winter told The Express.

"And there are only four or five who get the really top games – people like Martin, Howard Webb, Andre Marriner, Chris Foy and Phil Dowd.

"In my day there were 23 of us in the elite group and around eight or nine who did the big games. Even then by April you were running on empty. It is worse for these guys now – because there are fewer of them. They're all doing the biggest games week after week. Sooner or later you are going to make an error."

Atkinson returns to action this evening in the Champions League as a goal-line official for the semi-final first leg between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

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