Former referee chief Keith Hackett has told Mason he should consider retirement after ‘making a fool of himself’ at the Hawthorns on Saturday over Lewis Dunk’s disallowed free-kick.
Lewis Dunk appeals to referee Lee Mason after he ruled out, then allowed, then ruled out the Brighton defender’s goal against West Brom[/caption]
Dunk blasted the official following the game, saying he ‘lost control’ after he ruled out his quick free-kick despite initially giving him permission for the kick to be taken and giving it as a goal.
The Brighton centre-back asked Mason if he could take a quick free-kick on the edge of West Brom’s box, with the referee saying yes, blowing his whistle and the Brighton defender scoring… only for the referee to then blow his whistle for a second time as the ball was crossing the line.
Pundits claimed the referee panicked when, after giving Dunk the okay, he then realised it was a mistake when he spotted that the goalkeeper was not in the correct position.
It seemed the goal would be ruled out, but Mason then pointed to the centre-spot to signal the goal would stand… only to be overruled by VAR.
The free-kick was then re-taken, and resulted in a comfortable save for Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone
As a result of Mason’s blunder, West Brom went on to win the match 1-0 in what could prove to be a crucial result in the Premier League relegation battle.
It’s not the first time the referee has courted controversy this season, following the part he played in the VAR fiasco where Mike Dean was told to send off West Ham’s Tomas Soucek.
Nuno Espirito Santo has also hit out at Mason this season, with the Wolves boss fined £25,000 after branding the referee ‘not good enough’ following his side’s 2-1 defeat to West Ham back in December.
And Hackett, former Premier League referee and ex-chief of the Professional Game Match Officials board [PGMOL] says Mason should now quit as a referee for good.
“I really do think Lee Mason should hang up his whistle – he’s having an awful run, he’s in awful form,” Hackett told talkSPORT 2.
“He didn’t follow procedure. We have a protocol!
“What we say is this: We award a free-kick outside the penalty area, in that situation the referee runs up towards the ball and as he’s running up the players can take a quick free kick.
“But once it becomes a set piece, which is when the referee is standing over the ball, he’s got to ensure the wall is back 9.15 metres [ten yards], he’s got to ensure attackers are not in that wall and is then comfortable that everybody is ready, and then he gives the signal.
“But what does Lee Mason do? He makes a complete howler of it!
“He’s in the process of setting up the wall, the goalkeeper is standing on the post sorting out the positioning of the wall when Mason, convinced by Dunk that everything is okay, doesn’t even look up, blows his whistle and the ball is in the back of the net!
“Then, as the ball is going in the net he suddenly realises he’s made a fool of himself, blows the whistle a second time and then for some unknown reason he points and gives the goal! But now we’ve got VAR involved, we go back.
“It’s a complete and utter mess for a Premier League referee.
“This wouldn’t happen in the local parks! I assure you, a standard young referee coming through the system knows this procedure and would operate it.”
Asked if Mason was right to blow his whistle a second time, Hackett explained: “Yeah, I think he was, but the fact of the matter is he then gives a goal!
“He was totally and utterly confused, that was evident for everybody to see. And this is one of the most experienced referees on the list, coming towards retirement and he makes such a mistake.
“This is basic refereeing and you just can’t get away with that.
“The PGMOL have seriously got to say now, ‘look, it’s about time you should hang the whistle up’. I’m that convinced that Lee Mason is struggling and of course towards the end of the game he should have come off as he was clearly unfit.
“He’s had three or four major errors over the last month, his confidence must be shot and of course he comes to this particular game and compounds his lack of confidence by making such a basic referring error and makes a fool of himself.
“But, knowing Mike Riley, he’ll give Lee Mason a game tomorrow.
“There really is no accountability at the PGMOL – they go from one crisis to the next and we highlight them every week. Referees need support and sometimes that means to take them out of games, not to punish but to aid the recovery process.”