Issue After Saturday’s refereeing horror show, look who’s in town on Saturday…

As told by Jason Mckeown

As the dust settles on Saturday’s controversial refereeing display from Mick Russell, a referee will again be the centre of attention this weekend as Bradford City’s home game with Macclesfield is to be officiated by Stuart Attwell.

The youngest person ever to referee a Premier League match, Attwell has been ‘rested’ since officiating a 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Sunderland in September. That afternoon Liverpool scored in highly controversial circumstances, after Attwell had awarded Sunderland a free kick in their own half.  Mackems defender Michael Turner laid the ball back to keeper Simon Mignolet to take the free kick, only for Attwell to determine the kick had been taken and allow Liverpool to run through and score.

Attwell was dropped for making such a blunder, and has yet to referee a game since. We have the dubious pleasure of his return on Saturday.

The 26-year-old is well known for a series of errors, most famously awarding Reading a phantom goal in their game against Watford in 2008. His list of controversies is long, and City were the victims of his whistle-happy antics at Morecambe last season where a truly horrendous performance was capped off by a ridiculous sending off for Gareth Evans.

At least we’ve been warned what to expect.

So City v Macclesfield is the first tentative step back for apparently one of the country’s brightest referees. No doubt the Premier League spotlight will make its way to Valley Parade as the powers-that-be judge whether his break has enabled him to improve his decision-making – but it is worth questioning quite why any Football League match should be used as a testing ground for an inept Premier League referee.

One hopes that this will lead to a low-key afternoon without any major decisions; because despite the presence of a famous face, there should be no doubt who is not the star of the show on Saturday.