Dear Sir.

I am writing to you with a complaint regarding the refereeing standards in the football league. I am an Aston Villa Fan but before you dismiss me as some sort of idiot please read what I have to say.

I am a retired Police Officer in my late fifties and have both played and followed football since I was a very young boy. I played to a reasonable level as an amateur player, playing in both the Birmingham senior leagues and later for the police team in the area that I worked.

Six weeks ago I, like thousands of others paid an extortionate amount of money into the FA's bank in order to support my team in the Carling Cup Final. This match was between two very good teams who had already fought out two excellent league matches this season. After a few minutes Villa were rightly awarded a penalty for foul play, the player concerned should have been sent off, the FIFA rules are clear on this and there is no discretion. The referee did not do so and and within minutes he had actually booked two Villa players for inocuous fouls. Eventually Manchester United won the game and the cup.

The referee, Phil Dowd apparantly did not send off the offending United player because it was early in the game and he did not want to spoil the spectacle. I paid 70 for my ticket plus rail fare and food for the day, my day out cost me nearly 160 and Mr Dowd certainly helped to spoil the spectacle for me with his incompetence and his "look at me I am the star of the show display".

I move on six weeks to yesterday, another referee and another incompetent show, same venue, another of the so called big 4 and our so called number one referee Mr Howard Webb.

Mr Webb missed from 5 yards what the whole of Wembley saw a blatant foul on a Villa player when the ball was actually three feet away. No penalty. Later he booked John Terry for what can only be described as an assault, so he did see it then? Perhaps he felt Mr Terry had been through enough recently and could do without the hassle of a ban to add to his problems.

The thing that upsets most fans more than anything is the FAs lack of action regarding these officials. Week after week they are making decisions that cost people their livelihoods and turn fans away from the game they love so much, people feel cheated and rightly so.

The FA are told time and time again by fans, media and reporters about the bias towards the so called big four, It happens over and over, week on week and it is turning fans away from the game because they know that when they turn up to a Fulham, Villa, Stoke, Wigan or at least another dozen teams match against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool they will probably go home feeling cheated.

I have no argument in losing, my argument is the manner in which we lost both games, I feel cheated by two men who clearly think that they are bigger than the game and the two teams playing.

Perhaps it is the onset of Proffesional referees that makes them feel a lot more important than they are, they see themselves as celebrities and even admit to supporting one club or another (usually one of the four mentioned previously).

I have to say refereeing seemed to be a lot better when they only did it for a small fee and expenses. But then that seems true of a lot of things in life, we now have the celebrity referee who wants to join in the show rather than quietly make it run within the rules.

Would you be kind enough to explain to me when the FA are to deal with this unsavoury part of our game and make these attention and limelight seekers step into line, play the game by the rules and stop making it up as they go along.

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Janice HodgeBy:
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