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Evans wants Monday chats with referees after career of scrapes with officials



STEVE EVANS wants referees to speak to managers every Monday.

You’ll be hard pressed to find an EFL boss who has had more scrapes with officials in a career spanning Leeds, Rotherham, Peterborough, Gillingham, Mansfield, Crawley, Boston and currently Stevenage.

The experienced boss has had a long list of scrapes with officials down the years

But Evans, 59, believes weekly phone chats between managers and officials after emotions have died down will prove constructive, educational and build mutual respect.

The Scottish boss told me: “The referee would always ring you or take your call on Monday if there was anything contentious but now it’s the head of referees you must speak to instead. 

“When you’re in the heat of battle on Saturday by Monday that has cooled down but the issue remains. So to get a call from the ref himself, and be able to discuss the situation man-to-man, was a great thing.


“The ref would say for example, ‘I’ve had a look at the video and got another angle on it and my decision was spot on so what are your thoughts on it now?’ 

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“Or he would apologise by saying, ‘I’ve had a look again, it’s not a penalty. I’ve let myself and you down.’

“I would then say to the ref, ‘Don’t worry, I make mistakes every week. I got my tactics and selections wrong or made bad substitutions.’ 

“By the end of those conversations, you’ve built huge respect for one another.”

The PGMOL, the governing referees’ body, officially does not allow managers an option to hold a telephone call with the matchday official.

Although they are allowed to speak face-to-face after a 30-minute “cooling down period” following the final whistle.

Teams can supply feedback and seek clarification on matters via a formal process.

Clubs and managers are also able to contact the head of referees for the relevant league.


In the EFL’s case, ex-Premier League refs Kevin Friend (Championship) and Mike Jones (League One & Two) field calls from clubs and managers and liaise directly with the officials.

But Evans says it’s better hearing from the horse’s mouth and thinks it is sensible to let the dust settle on a match to guarantee constructive engagement.

Kevin Friend is now in charge of Championship referees
Steve Evans regretted his bust-up with David Coote at Luton so much that it inspired him to mend his attitude towards referees
Steve Evans with our man Justin Allen at Stevenage's training ground

The Scottish manager knows full well what can happen when emotions are running high and points to an incident three years ago while he was managing Peterborough, which he deeply regrets and has led to him moderating his behaviour.

Evans had a post-match bust-up with ref David Coote for sending off Ryan Tafazolli at Luton.

He said: “I felt David brandished the red card because the crowd were on his back. I shouted very loudly at him in the tunnel and then in his dressing room afterwards.

“As I left Kenilworth Road, I thought this is a guy who I knew well, had gone for a beer with and even driven 70 miles to Newark to take part in a Q&A session for him at his local referees’ association, which was a cracking night.

 “I was so disappointed with my behaviour because David is an honest guy. His decision was made in good faith. That’s probably the only time I knew myself I’d gone over the top.


“It’s right to question decisions and officials welcome that but how you do it is so important. That’s where I’ve changed. I’ve accepted you can’t win every game. 

“It took a long time to get into my head that maybe my centre-back or keeper was at fault for the goal we conceded rather than the ref or assistants.

“Do I maintain my passion? Yes. Do I still appeal for decisions? Yes. Am I going to question them? Yes. But the way I’ve gone about it for the last few years has been different.”

Some top officials have been accused of being “arrogant” but Evans believes they require to have that airs about them to deal with the egos of top footballers.

However, the Scottish boss says it’s important to draw a distinction between being arrogant and strong.


PAUL INCE (Reading)

IF I lose I must speak to the media and make myself and the players accountable.


When refs make mistakes that affect our results they’re not making themselves accountable. They hide behind their union.

Sometimes you can’t even talk to refs. You’re not allowed to ask why they didn’t give this or that.

I met Kevin Friend at a Luton game and he gave me his number. He’s looking after refs now and he told me, ‘Any issues you see, give me a call and we’ll talk about it and I’ll explain the reason why, or where we got it wrong or why a ref made a certain decision.’

I make my players accountable. Refs should be no different.  

WE don’t have VAR in the Championship so you just have to accept referees make honest mistakes.

MARK ROBINS (Coventry)

There’s no point having a go at the ref in the heat of the battle because he’s only got a split second to make a decision. I don’t think we should make it more difficult for them.


The 48-hour consultation isn’t there anymore but in fairness I’ve only picked the phone up on a couple occasions. There’s no point because there’s no recourse. They just apologise. 

DEAN SMITH (Norwich)

I’VE never spoken to a referee on a Monday but there would be no point in doing so anyway.

DANNY COWLEY (Portsmouth)

WHERE would be without refs? I’m a qualified ref and I moan about them all the time.

EFL officials should be full-time so they can have the right training, the necessary fitness levels and attract the right quality person to do the job well.



WE’VE had gripes with refs but nothing major. But if you’re not allowed to ring a ref then it sounds like they’re protecting themselves even more from dodgy decisions.

He recalls an incident while managing Rotherham that cost an official a Premier League gig.

He said: “We were at home and the ref gave the opposition a goal. It was an awful decision but he wouldn’t engage with me, threatening to send me off. In the corner of my eye I saw Mike Riley, head of the PGMOL. 

“Afterwards Mike asked if he could have a beer with me. He told me that the ref’s decision was spot on. 

“But as he was assessing the referee for a promotion to the Premier League, his conclusion was, ‘If he couldn’t handle dealing with Steve Evans then what chance did he have with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho?’ 

“A good ref will never shy away from going through an incident with you.”

Evans is impressed with much of the work the PGMOL are engaging in. 


In the summer, former referees Jon Moss and Adam Gale-Watts visited Premier League and Championship clubs to talk through various issues.

And he enjoys when local referees, who do not take charge of Stevenage games, visit and will officiate training games.

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Evans said: “They’ll talk the players and coaches through all the various things that come up in games.

“They’ll then come and have lunch with the lads and build up a great rapport. That is what you want from referees — actively engaging, building relationships and showing they’re human.”

Source: The Sun

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