It’s time to meet the man in the middle - insists Kenny Shiels

Referee Ben Connolly shows Gavin Peers of Derry City a red card late in the game during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Derry City at Oriel Park.
Referee Ben Connolly shows Gavin Peers of Derry City a red card late in the game during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Derry City at Oriel Park.

KENNY SHIELS has called for regular ‘clear the air’ meetings with ‘arrogant’ FAI match officials in a bid to improve relations between managers and referees in the League of Ireland.

The Derry City manager’s suggestion comes in the wake of his side’s 2-2 draw against Dundalk at Oriel Park where Gavin Peers was issued a red card for a second bookable offence in the final few minutes of the game.

Shiels was ‘livid’ with the decision as the defender must sit out Friday night’s crunch clash with Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell.

During the game the City boss remonstrated with the fourth official, who he described as being like the ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘God Almighty’, requesting answers for several decisions by the officials but to no avail.

And he reckons the match officials must stop viewing managers as ‘monsters’ and learn to communicate better if relationships are to improve.

Pointing to similar meetings when he managed Kilmarnock in Scotland, Shiels said: “There has to be something done because at this moment in time I’m finding it difficult to have a conversation with fourth officials.

“They are arrogant and above their station. They don’t have any flexibility with their personality. They talk down to you if you ask them a question or anything. Not all of them but the one on Friday night (Rob Rogers) was.

“If you make a foul in a match now is it a yellow card? I asked him because Gavin (Peers) made two in the whole match. I couldn’t believe Gavin got sent off and you can’t do anything about it and you can’t challenge it. We’re going to miss him on Friday night because of a referee’s mistake.

“If the rules have changed that when you make a foul it’s a yellow card then that’s fair and we can accept that. But he’s made one in the first half and one in the second and that’s total in the whole match.

“The guy who fouled Aaron McEneff in the penalty box didn’t even get booked. Sean Hoare had two fouls in a minute and didn’t even get booked so there’s a disparity here.

“There has to be something in line where we aren’t looked upon as monsters - that’s the impression I’m getting. There’s no commitment at all to strengthen relationships with the managers.

“I try not to bother with them unless it’s something like asking why my player was booked.

“When you ask that question nine times out of 10 they just ignore you.

“How does that strengthen the understanding in a relationship between a manager and the officials? I can’t believe what I’m seeing in this league. I just can’t believe it. They look down at you.

“In Scotland we had maybe three meetings a season where managers would meet the referees and a referee co-ordinator would chair the meeting.

“He was a former referee who co-ordinated the meeting with managers of clubs and the referees. That definitely helped. It helped them to understand each other.

“My concern is why you can’t even speak to them. They won’t have any rapport whatsoever.

“I want t0 know what the fourth official’s purpose in the game is. What does he do if he doesn’t have the manner to communicate to the manager and say the referee has just told me over the earpiece it was a late challenge or dangerous foul play or whatever.”

During the first half of Friday night’s game the assistant referee accidently hit Shiels on the head with his flag which led to another exchange between the Derry boss and the fourth official, Rob Rogers.

“He blamed me for that!” he exclaimed.

“The linesman apologised to me which was big of him and it was an accident but the fourth official was like the Prime Minister or God Almighty.

“I’m very approachable. I can have a bit of fun as well. I do try to make conversation and help people realise we are human beings.

“We have a passion for our team to win and sometimes we overstep the mark but I’ve never overstepped it to the extend where I’m going to be disrespectful.

“ Everybody has a job to do.”