By Damian Dolan
London manager Ciaran Deely has called for all National League matches in the UK to be officiated by UK-based referees and linesmen.
The London senior football boss spoke out last week following the Exiles’ Division 4 clash with Carlow at McGovern Park, which was overseen by a Cork referee but with London providing both linesmen.
The GAA only supplies referees and linesmen for UK championship games. For National League fixtures, just a referee is appointed from Ireland, with linesmen and umpires brought in from UK counties outside of the host county.
The GAA’s income last year was up by more than €5 million to €65,620,502, an increase of nine per cent compared to 2016.
“London need to be respected and treated like every other team in the National League,” Deely told the Irish World.
“If you had Donegal playing Kerry in Donegal you’re obviously not going to have officials from Donegal.”
For London’s fixture with Wicklow on Sunday, the linesmen were provided by Hertfordshire. For the London hurlers Div 2A fixture with Meath on Saturday, they came from London, while Warwickshire provided the linesmen for their Div 3A fixture with Longford at Pairc na hEireann.
“If we’re happy to have British (based) officials, then let’s have British officials. Give the referees from Britain an opportunity to referee the games – we’re happy with that,” added Deely.
“If we’re flying all of the officials over from Ireland for championship, it seems strange that we don’t do the same for the League, because for us the League is more important than the Championship.
“The one worry we would have is if there was a controversial moment or decision the opposition team might query it.
“If you ask for my preference I would say all British. I don’t think there’s a British referee on the inter-county panel of referees, which I find strange. We need more funding, more courses, we need to train people up more in refereeing.”
A GAA spokesperson told the Irish World: “It is a long-standing policy, in agreement with Britain, London and Central Council, that referees and linesmen travel to Britain for Connacht Championship, Qualifier and All-Ireland Club Championship games.”