Today I watched matches from the Scottish Premier League and the Barclays Premier League on television.

What particularly impressed me was the skill of the referees.

The derby match between Rangers and Celtic in Scotland was played at a frenetic pace. FIFA Referee, Craig Thomson and his team were alone in a cauldron of hatred between the supporters and the highly competitive attitudes of the players.

They did magnificently. Craig used all his experience to defuse problems by the quiet word or the formal warning. When cautions were required they were given without fear or favour. It was an excellent example of the art of refereeing at the top level.

He was close to play when he made his decisions and his body language was that of a confident referee totally in control of the situation.

World Cup final referee Howard Webb was in charge of the BPL match between Wigan and Newcastle.

Again his body language was that of a referee in total control – accurate decisions and a feeling for the game. The German word is “fingerspitzengefühl” – a feeling in the tips of your fingers.

Both referees exuded confidence, but not over-confidence.

They had a feeling for the game and the players responded accordingly.

The 17 Laws of the Game are clearly stated but the top referees are those who are able to apply them with confidence, accuracy and common sense.

Refereeing is an art.

Not every work of art or artistic performance is perfect. There have been some poor performances both on the screen and on the stage but overall the top performers regularly deliver at the top level.

Top referees do the same. They do not get every decision correct but they are highly qualified specialists who are experts at their craft.

We must never under-estimate the skills of the top referees.

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