When you talk about refereeing and officiating this season, it’s easy for people to dismiss legitimate complaints by talking about club bias.

“Of course you think that, it’s for the benefit of your team!”.

And look, as much as I try and be objective, it’s impossible to argue that there isn’t an element of truth in that from time to time. Not always, but it can seep in. I think that’s true of most football fans. Our frustration and sense of injustice can lead us to believe that something that’s on the borderline of being correct or not is actually something much more egregious.

But what about when it’s not your team? There can’t be any bias there, so let me have a go. This morning I don’t know how Gary O’Neil hasn’t driven to PGMOL HQ to set up camp there, demanding something be done about these officials. Already this season the victims of two of the worst penalty decisions you will ever see, they were once again robbed of precious points by garbage decisions which once again highlight the abject standard of officiating in the Premier League.

Fulham’s first penalty was soft, to say the least, and the Wolves player got something on the ball too. VAR checked but decided the referee hadn’t made a clear and obvious error. Which, by the way, is a definition that provides a get-out clause for officials, and no clarity for the rest of us. Can the referee in real time actually see that touch? Probably not, but is it a ‘clear and obvious’ error? Perhaps not, because how could he be expected to see something which we need super slow-mo replays for. Which is why it’s useless terminology.

Wolves got a penalty of their own, and the foul by Tim Ream, already on a yellow card, was worthy of a second. Hwang Hee-chan is going through, it’s subtle but deliberate, and it should be a red card. Not given, although the officials admitted afterwards it should have been. As for the second Fulham penalty in injury time, the one which saw Wolves come away with nothing, Harry Wilson went down and the referee rightly waved play on. But VAR decided he’d made a clear and obvious error, made him go check it, and Michael Salisbury buckled under the pressure and gave it. Nonsense. It’s a dive, anyone can see that. Nor was it clear and obvious.

On top of that, there was a ‘headbutt’ incident in which Carlo Vinicius caught Max Kilman, and the referee actually described that to Gary O’Neil as a ‘soft headbutt’, and deemed it not worthy of a red card. There wasn’t much contact, but we’ve seen them given before, when you do that with your head you are asking for trouble. There are shades of Bruno Guimaraes on Jorginho in that decision making. “Yes it was violent conduct, but not violent enough”, as if that’s in the rules somewhere.

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