The PGMOL are under scrutiny for sending referees on extracurricular gigs in the Middle East – after the video officials who robbed Luis Diaz of Liverpool‘s opening goal were in the United Arab Emirates two days before their colossal cock-up.
Darren England and Dan Cook officiated a UAE Pro League match between Sharjah and Al Ain on Thursday, kicking off at 8pm local time. They completed their 16-hour round trip by flying back to London on Friday ahead of Tottenham versus Liverpool on Saturday.
That has raised eyebrows among Premier League insiders who feel it was hardly the greatest preparation before the biggest match of the weekend, citing concerns over workload and fatigue.
Refereeing sources say officials can typically earn $3,000 (£2,500) for covering a match in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
PGMOL insiders have previously defended their jet-setting officials, insisting it aids the positive reputation of English referees across the world.
They also say it is not uncommon for officials to return on a Friday after covering Europa League or Europa Conference League games and be handed off-field assignments such as VAR in the Premier League on a Saturday.
PGMOL have confirmed that VAR official Darren England (pictured) and VAR assistant Dan Cook (not pictured) will step down from their roles for upcoming fixtures
VAR ruled out a Liverpool goal against Tottenham, despite replays clearing showing Luis Diaz was being played onside by Cristian Romero
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The PGMOL have now sidelined England and Cook after admitting they were wrong to disallow Diaz’s opener for offside, with the Liverpool forward clearly played on by the outstretched leg of Tottenham’s Cristian Romero.
England was supposed to be fourth official for Nottingham Forest against Brentford on Sunday while Cook was listed as an assistant in Chelsea versus Fulham on Monday. Craig Pawson and Eddie Smart replaced them respectively.
Al Ain won 3-2 against Sharjah to go top of the UAE Pro League table. Michael Oliver was referee at the Sharjah Stadium on Thursday before acting as fourth official at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday. Cook and Stuart Burt were Oliver’s assistants while England was VAR.
PGMOL chief Howard Webb authorised the trip and sought the approval of the Football Association, who have to sanction these international opportunities. It was decided it would not affect the officials’ availability to be selected for Premier League fixtures.
However, England and Cook’s performance in Tottenham versus Liverpool has increased the scrutiny on these trips, with the PGMOL launching a review into their error. Part of that investigation is bound to focus on the trip prior to Saturday’s Premier League outing.
Diaz appeared to beat the offside trap to convert before it was ruled out for offside
Replays showed that the decision was the wrong one, with PGMOL coming out after the match to issue a statement