Craig Pawson

Hackett’s Verdict | Whistle-stop for a top referee!

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I am sure that Craig Pawson will be looking forward to his English Premier League appointment on Sunday when he takes charge of the Newcastle United v Liverpool game at St James’ Park

However, in the approach to that game he has to take a minimum five hour plane journey to officiate the Europa League between Macabbi Tel-Aviv and Villareal, which kicks off at 20.05 on Thursday.

Unlike the away teams in this competition who usually fly straight back home immediately after the game, Craig and his fellow English officials ┬áhave to stay overnight. You would doubt they’d get to bed until about 3am following a well earned dinner.

So he will be hoping that his return journey to Manchester, usually via Heathrow, and his drive back over the busy A57 will enable him to get back to Sheffield by early evening on Friday.

I know this routine well, having been a FIFA referee for ten years during my career.

On Saturday morning he will be up early in order to do a light training session before departing later in the day to the North East.

A tiring week, but typical when you are an official operating for FIFA.

Let’s hope that Craig, who has started his season well, can maintain his form and continue his positive progress in the Select Group of English referees.