Guest speaker Feb 2012: Paul Hardie – “managing advantage”

Paul Hardie, our guest speaker for February, qualified as a referee in the RAF. He attained his Class 1 (in old money) in whilst serving in Cyprus, where he refereed on the Cyprus National League for three years. Returning to England he refereed and lined on various leagues such as the Western League and the Isthmian League reaching the Football League line and Conference middle. He retired from the Football League in 1996 and turned to assessing, becoming a Football League assessor in 1999. He also continued as an FA Tutor and is now a Level 4 Tutor working on national courses.

Paul’s topic for the evening was Managing Advantage. Playing an advantage that comes off gives you a great feeling, he said, but it can be fraught with danger. Remember that the Law requires that there is a benefit to the non-offending team, just having possession of the ball does not always constitute an advantage. Paul then split the meeting into four random groups to prioritise the factors to consider when playing advantage. He gave each group nine factors written on cards and asked them to set out the cards into a ‘diamond nine’ in order of priority. The highest would be at the top and then the next two of equal important and then three which they considered next in priority, going then to the two next in order with the one factor of least importance. The factors he gave were, referee’s control, state of the match, seriousness of the tackle, skill level, temperature of the match, conditions of the field of play, position on the field of play, attacking opportunity and control of the ball.

This created much discussion in each group and then with the interaction between the groups. In the end all agreed that the highest priority was that playing advantage should not be considered if it adversely affected the referee’s control and this may well be dependent on the temperature of the game and the seriousness of the foul. Paul then asked the meeting to consider five other questions.

a)      When is the advantage signal applied? (i.e. how quickly?)

b)      Where (or where not) on the Field of Play would you apply advantage?

c)      Why would you not apply advantage? You would be unwise for instance Paul said to allow play to continue if the foul was a sending off offence.

d)     How do you communicate the advantage signal?

e)      For how long is the advantage signal maintained?   

You have all these factors to consider and yet you have o make an instant decision, Paul said, so recommended the four Ps 

Possession – active and credible control by the player fouled or team mate – without possession, none of the other Ps matter.

Potential – probability of a continuing and immediate attack on goal.

Players – number and skill of attackers versus the number and skill of defenders

Proximity – distance from goal

 Paul concluded by saying that there is a very good saying on advantage – Control is a necessity, advantage is a nicety.

As one newer member said afterwards, ‘I really enjoyed that, you learn a lot interacting together in small groups.’ So thanks Paul for a truly interactive and learning experience.

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