IF top level football referees require video technology to make decisions, what chance do local amateur officials have?

That’s the question raised by Stocksfield’s David McMillan, who oversees a small team of young officials based at Stocksfield Football Club.

David, who is also a member of the Hexham branch of the Northumberland Referees’ Association, is keen to ensure up-and-coming men in the middle are given the support they need to flourish in the game.

And he has called upon players, coaches, and spectators to put themselves in the referees’ shoes during matches in the district this season.

He said: “There has been a lot said about Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League and elsewhere at the top level.

“The fact that the best referees in the world are using video replays to make big decisions means it’s far from an easy job.

“The referee can only see what he sees, and make a decision based upon that. At grass roots level, there is no monitor to look at.

“I just want everyone involved to keep that in mind. In the heat of the moment it is not easy for players and people on the sidelines to keep their emotions in check, but that referee is doing his or her best to make the correct decision.”

The introduction of VAR to English football’s top flight follows its success in European competitions, and at last year’s World Cup.

The opening weekend of the season yielded some interesting results. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero saw his penalty kicked saved by West Ham goalkeeper Lucas Fabianski.

But after using VAR, referee Mike Dean ruled that West Ham players had entered the penalty area. The spot kick was re-taken, and Aguero scored.

“It’s maybe a good thing that human error will be taken out of the game,” said David. “But that’s only at the top level.

“There is no VAR for the 8.5m people outside of the upper echelons, who play grass roots football. In some respects, it’s even more difficult for local officials. For example, the pitches we use are not always even, and you might get a handball incident from an unexpected bounce. We all love football, and I just want us all to work together and support the referees we do have, and continue to encourage more people to get involved with officiating.

“We may never get VAR at local level, but we’ll always need referees.”

David, who is a referee himself, and other officials at Stocksfield, travel across the district and as far afield as Newcastle and North Tyneside to preside over matches, predominantly in junior leagues.