The PGMOL, who are in charge of refereeing in the Premier League, have appointed referees for the next round of fixtures in English football’s top-flight.
Richard Keys has faulted PGMOL’s decision to appoint Chris Kavanagh as the referee for Manchester City’s upcoming game against Liverpool.
Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad on Saturday in a crucial clash, with just one point separating the Premier League’s top two. PGMOL, which is in charge of the division’s referees, believe Kavanagh is the right man to handle such an occasion.
Yet Keys disagrees. The beIN Sports presenter is worried Kavanagh will struggle “under the added pressure” of taking charge of one of the Premier League’s biggest fixtures. “Are there no other refs?” Keys asked in a post on social media on Tuesday.
Kavanagh will be assisted at the Etihad by Simon Bennett and Dan Robathan. The lead VAR official for the game will be Stuart Attwell, who was the on-field referee for Newcastle’s 1-0 victory against Arsenal earlier this month – a match that dominated the headlines.
Keys posted on X shortly after Kavanagh’s appointment was announced on Tuesday. He asked his followers several questions, starting with: “Why do PGMOL do it?
“Why? Not for a moment do I think Chris Kavanagh will be anything other than professional at City but what if? What if something goes wrong? And in a season like this, who’d bet against it? Why put him under the added pressure? Are there no other refs?”
Liverpool fans have criticised the decision to appoint Kavanagh for their game against City because he was born in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester. The 38-year-old has taken charge of games involving City and Manchester United before.
Kavanagh has also faced criticism from Jurgen Klopp and Guardiola in the past. Klopp wasn’t happy after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham in December 2021, when Harry Kane wasn’t sent off for a poor challenge on Andy Robertson.
On-field referee Paul Tierney booked Kane for the challenge, but Kavanagh – as the VAR official – didn’t think the England skipper deserved a red card.
“It’s a clear, absolutely 100 per cent a red card,” ranted Klopp after the feisty Premier League game. “If Andy Robertson’s foot is on the ground his leg is broken. Luckily for both, it was in the air, but it’s still a red card. The ref saw it differently.”
Guardiola also clashed with Kavanagh during City’s Carabao Cup loss to Newcastle in September. The manager was booked for his complaining.
“I don’t know how many fouls they did, how many fouls we had and the number of yellow cards,” said Guardiola. “But it is what it is, sometimes the emotions are there. Respect for the referees and their job. A well-deserved yellow card.”