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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 14:28 GMT
Referees ready for radio tune-in
Referee Graham Poll is leading an experiment
Graham Poll is already road-testing communications equipment
Premiership referees could soon be using radio communication technology.

Referees chief Keith Hackett is monitoring an experiment which saw officials connected up in some of this week's Champions League matches.

Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB), told BBC Sport: "The game at Premiership level is just demonic in terms of pace.

"It tests referees physically and mentally, we will look at anything that can help them get decisions right."

Football lags behind sports such as both codes of rugby and cricket in mic-ing up their officials.

The PGMOB is also using top English referee Graham Poll to spearhead their own experiment.

At Stamford Bridge the referee would get a call for a taxi to take a fare
Referees chief Keith Hackett

Hackett admitted that problems with equipment in the past had shelved previous attempts to mic officials up.

He said: "We had a system in place five years ago, but having run it for a full season we had a series of problems with outside intereference.

"Amusingly, but not for the referee involved, at somewhere like Stamford Bridge the official would get a call for a taxi to take a fare from Kensington High Street into town.

"We decided to move away from that system and through Graham Poll we're experimenting with a number of potential suppliers.

"If it's a system that's proven and works well and enhances refereeing, then we will look to use it.

"Uefa are running their own field tests and trials and we would like to learn the results of those before we make our decision."

Hackett feels the introduction of radio communication could have several benefits for referees.

He said: "The most important is speed of communication, things like informing his assistants of the players he's cautioned.

"The referee will be on an open mic so his assistants will have verbal signs of how the referee is dealing with individual players so there's a better feel for the game.

Former referee Keith Hackett
Keith Hackett knows how demanding the modern game is

"There are also things like instructing the fourth official the length of time to be added on and in turn the fourth official can also give the referee a heads-up on substitutions before the board goes up.

"A referee can also be drawn into a mass confrontation and it can be helpful to have immediate communication.

"The other side is that sometimes the referee comes away from the scene of a pretty hot incident that requires his presence to prevent a problem brewing between two or more players."

Hackett admitted the increasing scrutiny under which referees fall has prompted several measures to help officials.

"Sometimes at matches there can be as many as 16 cameras on a referee, all looking to pick up on any mistake.

"We're using all sorts of technology now, such as heart monitoring and ProZone which gives me a post-match review of a referee's performance.

"This is just another piece of technology that can help a referee's performance on the field."


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