BT Sport Films opens up the world of refereeing


BT Sport will premiere the next instalment in its acclaimed BT Sport Films series, Ref: Stories From the Weekend, on April 4 on BT Sport 1 at 10.30pm, with the most in-depth look ever taken at the world of referees, from all levels of the game.

BT Sport will premiere the next instalment in its acclaimed BT Sport Films series, Ref: Stories From the Weekend, on April 4 on BT Sport 1 at 10.30pm, with the most in-depth look ever taken at the world of referees, from all levels of the game.

Featuring never-before-seen behind-the-scenes access into the day of a household name Premier League referee, Ref compares and contrasts refereeing at the elite level to those experiences of men and women doing the job at different levels of the game. Ref is a look at how referees carry out their role on the field of play and how they deal with the issues of abuse, both verbal and physical, which every referee will face at some point in a career. Ref also explores why someone chooses to start on the path to refereeing and how life is for a would-be referee, looking at how referees move up the ladder.

Simon Green, head of BT Sport said: “For the first time, Ref will take viewers behind the scenes at completely different levels of football to capture the emotions, challenges, satisfactions and perils experienced by the men and women with, arguably, the most difficult job in the game. We challenge the pre-conceptions we have about match officials and discover what life is really like out in the middle. Through BT Sport Films, BT Sport is committed to bringing sports fans the stories behind the sports, teams, athletes and events that resonate with them.”

The film is produced by Dunlop Goodrich for BT Sport. The film’s executive producer Grant Best said: “We wanted to make a film that went inside the world of refereeing. We discover what life’s really like during the 90 minutes out in the middle from the highest level in the Premier League to where it all begins at grassroots level.”

Contributions in the film include:

  • senior PGMOL Elite Group referee, Michael Oliver: we follow him through the course of a day in charge of a Premier League clash at Leicester’s King Power stadium
  • Nabila Yousseff is in her late 20s and relatively new to refereeing.On Saturdays, she takes charge of men’s games on Clapham Common which she describes as perhaps the hardest thing she’s ever had to do in her life.
  • Howard Webb MBE is one of the most respected match officials of recent times, having taken charge of domestic and European matches at the highest levels between 2003 and 2014 and refereeing the FIFA World Cup Final in 2010.
  • Will Cavenagh: a second year undergraduate at Durham University, he’s been refereeing since he was 14
  • Mike Cairns was a Premier League match official for fifteen years and returned to refereeing in grassroots football because he wanted to ‘give something back’.By his own admission, he’s been staggered by how life has changed in the lower leagues since he was young and now finds doing the job at that level a real physical and emotional challenge
  • Clive Steward is seventy years old and has been refereeing in local leagues around Swansea for 30 years. In 2009, he was assaulted by a parent at an under-13s game and hospitalised. Steward, though, still referees two or three times each weekend and has now looked after over 3000 games.
  • Honor Cantrell is twenty and has been refereeing for six years. She played women’s football at schools international level and in 2014, was Nottinghamshire FA’s ‘Most Promising Referee’.
  • Adrian Haines is in his 40s. He played senior football for 25 years in the Forest of Dean:A burly striker who scored goals and collected bookings in equal measure.Having retired as a player, Adrian has just finished his FA refereeing course and is taking charge of local games which often include former team-mates and opponents.
  • Jason Jarrett made 296 appearances in league and cup competitions in a 13-year career in the Football League. In 2013 Jarrett took an FA refereeing course whilst gaining experience refereeing on Sunday mornings in the Lancashire Sunday Football League. He now concentrates on his referee career.

    Other BT Sport Films that have already aired to date include:

  • The Crazy Gang: an in-depth look at the extraordinary story of Wimbledon FC in the 1980s.
  • One Day in May: The Story of The Bradford City Fire: the story of how a fire took so quickly that it consumed the main stand at Bradford City in less than four minutes in 1985
  • Silver Lining: a study in the dynamics of the sporting relationship between Olympians – and husband and wife - Gemma Gibbons and Euan Burton
  • Football Outposts: Arsenal fan, author and ex-EastEnders star Tom Watt embarks on journeys to various British and European football outposts.
  • Cornered: The film follows the story of Johnny Greaves, a 100-fight veteran of the professional boxing game who has won only four fights.