Winter dismisses Neville's 'elite' refs suggestion
2009-11-17 - Added by
Former Premier League referee Jeff Winter has rubbished Gary Neville's assertion that there should be an 'elite pool' of referees charged with officiating games involving the biggest top-flight clashes.
Manchester United club captain Neville made the comments earlier this week, in light of several key decisions which have gone against the champions' in defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea respectively in recent weeks.
The 34-year-old right-back ventured that officials should only be honoured with the chance to referee such a high profile clash when they have sufficient experience to do so, but Winter, 54, who has his own Twitter page, has ridiculed the suggestion.
The outspoken retired ref asserted that Neville's was a ill-thought out proposition, as officials must be given the opportunity of taking charge of such powderkeg matches in order to gain the experience to be able to handle such a game in the first place.
Neville has clearly caught himself in a catch-22 situation with his bullheaded theory, and Winter jumped at the chance to antagonise the defender, suggesting that Neville only made the comments off the back of United's disappointing recent defeats.
"It is a bit like (United manager) Sir Alex Ferguson saying we are not going to play a youngster in our first-team because our experienced players are far better than them," Teesside-based Winter told talkSPORT.
"You have to be given a chance to get that experience and then a few years later these guys are the seasoned internationals.
"What he is getting at is probably the appointment of Andre Mariner recently for the Liverpool-Manchester United game."
Winter went on to add that referees considered the finest on offer were generally awarded the difficult task of taking charge of such heavyweight clashes, but insisted that it was important to give younger officials a taste of the more feisty affairs.
He also explained that fledgling Premier League refs were blooded in a series games of a progressively higher profile in order to ready them for the challenge of officiating, for instance, a match involving two of the 'Big Four'.
"You have the select group of referees that referees the Premier League matches but within that group you have the international list, the most experienced guys and then you have the younger referees that come into it.
"The only way in life you are going to get experienced is when you are given a chance.
"When you first come into the Premier League with the greatest of respect to some sides you are going to get Burnley v Hull or Wigan against Fulham," he continued.
"Then eventually you are proving that you are doing the job you may get Manchester United, Liverpool Chelsea and Arsenal away from home against one of the lesser sides.
"Then you go up another rung to Old Trafford or the Emirates against one of the lesser sides. When you proved you are capable of going that you will eventually be given the bigger games."