What is the point of the 4th Official?

In the recent Chavs/Dippers match, Diego Costa stamped on a Liverpool player. The referee “didn’t see it”, it happened right in front of Phil Dowd, the Fourth Official.

Now, it seems most unlikely that Dowd also missed it, so why didn’t he signal to the ref that a foul had been committed?

The Ref, after having watched the video stated that had he seen the offence he would have dismissed Costa, Chelsea would have been down to ten men. Liverpool would have been handed an advantage and justice would have not only been done, but seen to be done, instantly!

Instead, after a fast-track hearing and an appeal Costa has been banned for three matches.

Thus an advantage has been awarded to Man City, Aston Villa and Everton, the three teams that Costa would reasonably have been expected to play against. Liverpool are left with only a sense of grievance.

So, back to my original question. What’s the purpose of the Fourth Official?

If he is not there to assist the on-field officials, why does a top grade referee have the job of checking the subs for necklaces, dodgy studs etc, keeping the opposing managers apart and holding up the board to indicate which players are being subbed and how many minutes of added time are to be played.

It seems the fourth official has no “official” duty in regard to the actual on-field activity.

So, why not?

written by Norfolk Gooner

87 Responses to What is the point of the 4th Official?

  1. Gööner In Exile says:

    I think the problem is it was Dowd, you often see other 4th officials cover their mouth and whisper sweet nothing’s to the man in the middle only to find a card is produced. But Dowd is just an idiot probably thinking he shouldn’t be the 4th official and instead in the middle and therefore thought he’d let Oliver get in the middle of a storm.

    Oliver went with the “did not see it” defence last used by Clattenburg when watching Rooney use an elbow. It means they as officials can avoid the wrath of the managers on the day but that some faceless body indicts the player instead.

    The grievance felt by Liverpool would be ten times manifested if more decisions were reviewed post match regardless of whether seen by the man in the middle or not. But if every cheating action was punished how long before the players start behaving properly and make the officials job a bit easier.

  2. rhyle says:

    Good piece, and a good question NG!

    From what I can tell he’s essentially there to do those things you mentioned, rat on the managers / subs for any misbehaviour and…I suppose, most importantly, act as a substitute should the ref get injured. Which happens.

    Just ask Jimmy Hill.


  3. chas says:

    Excellent question, NG.

    I’m not sure Dowd would have seen it.
    I think he was behind Can at the time of the incident and therefore Can’s body would have blocked any view of where Costa’s foot landed.

  4. chas says:

    This is the best video I could find though it isn’t very good.
    Mourinho is to the left, Rodgers to the right.
    Dowd’s feet appear in shot, walking from well behind both of them only after Can is rolling around on the ground.

  5. Timon Tartor says:

    What I hate is sentiment,sure costa did a thing stamping a liverpool player but what causes the anger of costa? Two penalties where not awarded the must painful of all is that of costa & now is ban for 3 matches what a world!

  6. chas says:

    Nah, the stamping was before any penalty appeals.

  7. I’ve found this on the FA website.

    This is from the faq section.

    The Fourth Official

    The Fourth Official assists the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game and officiates if any of the three other match officials (referee or assistant referees) is unable to continue.
    S/he has specific responsibilities for:

    Controlling the occupants of the technical area
    Assisting with substitution procedures during the match
    Assisting with any administrative duties before, during and after the match, as required by the referee.

    This seems to indicate that the fourth official is not concerned with action on the pitch. Strange!

  8. Big Raddy says:

    The 4th official job is to pick up an easy grand for doing nothing.

    Nice work if you can get it

    Timon is obviously a Chelsea fan. What would he be saying if it were Balotelli stamping on Oscar?

  9. arnie says:

    nice question, Norfolk. 🙂 yes, a mystery indeed. perhaps it is not so much simister as yet another evidence of how poor officiating standards are in the EPL. 😦

  10. arnie says:

    not claiming there is no corruption, but more likely it is more subtle. 😦

  11. omgarsenal says:

    The 4th official can only do what he is permitted to do by the referee. If the referee says do the following: `the job of checking the subs for necklaces, dodgy studs etc, keeping the opposing managers apart and holding up the board to indicate which players are being subbed and how many minutes of added time are to be played.` then that is what he can do and nothing else. The referee is THE BOSS and the assistants are told very clearly what they can and cannot do in the pre-game briefing by the ref.Failure to follow his requests can lead to some serious consequences.
    It looked as if Oliver didn’t want and didn’t expect such a tough,contentious match and he fell down on the job as well.

  12. “Controlling the occupants of the technical area” Joke! All it needs is a couple of big, bald-headed blokes in black overcoats. 😀

    Seriously though, why do we have a so called Elite Group official doing the dogsbody job?

  13. arnie says:

    yes, NorthBank, what a motning batner to miss! 😦 The only thing wrong about your 12:06 is the smiley at the end. it should be a sad face. 🙂

    well now we know, Micky is not follically challenged and his daughter and wifey are for real. 😛

    in addition to the Ant n’ Duck packed lunch, I now have coronation chicken in my wish list as well. Next time, Peaches. 🙂

  14. arnie says:

    also we know NorthBank has something that we have not seen! 😛

  15. arnie says:

    what are the chances of some ref howlers in the Chavs Shitty game today. 100% I would say.

    that is just teh degree of confidence I have in the officialdom. 😦

  16. I’m with you on that, Arnie.

    Moaniho will find something to gripe about so he can add to his “Conspiracy against Chelsea” dossier.

    But in all honesty, the standard of refereeing in the Premiership is awful. Tonight’s official? Mark Clattenburg. Considered by UEFA to be the top referee in Britain. God help us! 😦

  17. Eddie says:

    some horrendous results today 😦

    NG – scapegoats for Mourinho to blame if there is nobody else around

  18. Eddie says:

    NG – and a waste of money. How much do you think they earn?

  19. Eddie says:

    micky – will Marco Reus do you? Very handsome attacking midfielder

    I seem to remember that a 4th official in a top game gets about £700, not bad for less than 2 hours light job with no real responsibility. I could do that

  20. Eddie says:

    £700 per game.

  21. Eddie, Big Raddy reckons on an easy grand. Plus expense of course. Ten bob would be too much imho.

  22. Eddie, would you accept Diego Costa? Or is he just too ugly?

  23. arnie says:

    Norfolk. I like the bouncers for refs idea. 😛

  24. LB says:

    I am still amazed that Costa got a three match ban, I honestly thought he would get off with that ridiculous defence that he was not looking at the player.

    It should have been 10 matches and 3 months in the stands for Mourinho for trying to defend Costa in the way he did.

    I wonder if he said the same thing when he tried to gouge out the eye of a fellow manager in Spain.

    I’m innocent, I was’t looking at his eye when I did it.

    Banned words the pair of them.

  25. Big Raddy says:

    Nasty results again today.

    I told AW and all of you that Eriksen is a special player 4 years ago – no-one listened

  26. LB says:

    In fairness we did listen as did Wenger who went on and bought Ozil.

  27. Eddie says:

    bluuuuuue moooon……come on Shitty!!!

  28. Gööner In Exile says:

    Euurgh….just switched on to see those twats celebrating.

  29. Gööner In Exile says:

    Eddie shall we talk about Courtois?

  30. Eddie says:

    go on then, if you must 🙂

    that Mourinho really looks like a chav now with his shell Addidas trucksuit

  31. Eddie says:

    but you have heard what Thierry said – impossible to deal with

  32. Gööner In Exile says:

    Thierry’s a centre forward, he know nothing about goalkeeping, it may have been difficult but no excuse to go with one hand in the way he did, and in fact the best decision stay on your line.

  33. Eddie says:

    I was surprised when they asked Thierry s opinion on the goal 🙂

    I find the El Cash icon very disappointing, hardly a game I expected to see

  34. Gööner In Exile says:

    Dull dull dull

  35. Eddie says:

    yes it was dull. Thierry is rubbish! This is not a job for him!

    Do you have the photo of bluebells in the woods? That was a great photo

  36. RA says:


    I think one of the tasks of the fourth official is to be a stooge and let the ‘offended’ managers mouth off at him.

    He has no ability to tell the ref what to do — so it is what it is — just hot-air.

    Still, like a lightning rod it defuses the anger of the managers to a certain extent, and we get to say ‘what a prat Maureen is!’

  37. Gööner In Exile says:

    haha long time ago!

    Bee Mine

    Its in there somewhere, not sure which one

    Bluebell Wood Easton 7

  38. Eddie says:

    this one

    Bluebell Wood Easton 8

    Did you take all of those photos? They are awesome

  39. Gööner In Exile says:

    Yes i did, thanks, most pics these days are the kids, not had much time to go and do my own thing.

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    Edfie I think sitting in the Sky studio is not the place for him, he was much better in the less sensationalist seat at MOTD during the World Cup.

    I think we are so used to pundits on sky being enthusiastic but that was a purely boring game to talk about, looked to me like they had to wake him up at half time.

  41. Gööner In Exile says:

    And to top it off he was having to listen to Jamie Redknapp.

  42. arnie says:

    it seems any pundit taking a job in the studio has to make friends with the devil. This is the monopoly of Liverpool players.

    Before Henry’s place on the chair was confirmed, a statement from him had to be published. that if he were not an Arsenal player, the club that he would have liked to play for is Liverpool.

    Such is life!

    I am watching this space. 😦

  43. Bayonne Jean says:

    As a retiree, the job that would really suit me would be one of those extra officials who set up next to the goal on the end line in those CL matches. A wage, transport costs, two nights hotel with all meals, with instructions to do absolutely nothing — perfect! The only thing is I would go along with AW’s suggestion that those officials should be provided with a chair — sign me up!

  44. chas says:

  45. chas says:

    This looks a bit like Micky’s current hairstyle.

  46. Morning Chaster 🙂

    Is this Rady’s hairstyle then:

  47. This is mine, and I’me proud of it ha ha ha

  48. chas says:

    Is the first one you before you had it all shaved off?

  49. chas says:

  50. nah Chas

    I was never a Hatha Yoga Yo Yo. And definately not an aging one 🙂

  51. The bikers helmet for those who like the shaved head style but haven’t got the minerals to shave it all off

  52. And I don’t like Muesli or green tea 🙂

  53. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning from pub by the sea

    Thanks for the evidence yesterday Chas 🙂

    Come on Andy Murray soon

  54. mickydidit89 says:

    Coronation Chicken Sarnis today?

  55. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Was out last night and decided to record the Chavs.

    Made sure I didn’t get online just in case I found out the score and watched the game this morning. Total dreck.

    My dislike of that portugese twat deepens daily – to park the bus at home in front of billions of viewers is embarrassing. His team did nothing to entertain which considering the cost and ability of Hazard, Willian, Oscar etc is testament to the man having no conception that he is in the entertainment business.

    I feel mugged off.

  56. mickydidit89 says:


    Maureen is loathed by employers at every club he’s worked at. It is always a seriously short termist appointment. Win trophies, ruin the clubs reputation and move on.

  57. Brilliant move for their goal though…. bastards

  58. Ant says:

    There’s nothing wrong with hairy shoulders! Especially with a full set of teeth.

  59. chas says:

    🙂 No Coronation Chicken (well, not unless Peaches fancies adding some as a bonus)

  60. Big Raddy says:

    What a day of sport (for those of us with diverse interests). Cricket final (which we are losing), Arsenal, Murray in Oz tennis final and the Superbowl.

    Mrs Raddy will not be happy

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Magnificent teeth Ant 🙂

  62. Ant, do you use Head and Shoulders then ?

  63. chas says:

    See you later. Pick up in 5.
    Up The Arse.

  64. Magnificent choppers 🙂

  65. Big Raddy says:

    NB. Thanks for the pic of my hair. What is wrong with it?

    Many years ago I was in the music business and considered myself cool – so I had a pony-tail. Dreadful to admit it today but there we are, we all make fashion mistakes.

    Anyway, I was on the London Underground looked up and thought “who is that balding bastard with that ridiculous pony-tail”? only to realise it was a reflection of BR. On my way home I bought a hair trimmer and gave myself a Number 1 cut which I still sport today

    Holy Jamoley …. there is a post to write. Forgot all about it

  66. Unfortunately, too much red wine, black coffee and fags has taken it’s toll on my dentures 😦

  67. ha ha Raddy…. I’ve got a small growth of hair just above the neck line, better to shave it off. Otherwise I look as if I’ve got a beard on my chin and one on the back of me head 🙂

  68. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all, Late to the party but good question Norfolk,
    To be quite honest, the forth official is much like the touchline officials in Champions league matches bloody useless.

    The idea of Managers boxes are only there to add something for supporters, something else for the supporter to watch but really it is just to add another spectacle for the cameras.

    I imagine the question has been asked because of Chelsea’s forwards ban for stamping, But lets be honest, it doesn’t really matter how many officials they use there will always be confrontation.

    In my day the rules seemed to be easy to interpret, if the referee missed something then you were lucky to get away with it, today where there are camera’s from every angle, supporters want justice.

    I don’t believe its fair for anybody involved in the game to have a panel sit and make judgements after the game has been played unless of course it takes into account of offside goals or handball situations .

    To make things right, games would have to be replayed, if a referee has made a blunder, but as we know the season is long enough as it is and fitting extra games in would cause upsets with other fixtures..

    So in my opinion panels should be scrapped, and the referee’s committee should just make referee’s aware of what players are doing, so that they can keep an eye on things. Players will always do things wrong and
    referee’s will miss them, part and parcel of the game of football.

    Managers and players make an agreement with the television and media before a season starts , They agree to post match interviews and for players to talk to them before and after the game they get good money by agreeing, and should players or managers refuse to talk should also be banned for 3 games. Fines are only there to add to funds and should not be imposed, banings are the only answer

  69. ah ha………. a SteveP moment 🙂

  70. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning NB how was your break away, 🙂

  71. Eddie says:

    so the window has closed and no additions, poo

    micky – did you see/remember the photos of bluebells? something to aspire to 🙂

  72. Steve… not over yet, returning to sunny Avignon tomorrow, and my friend returns to Marseille so I won’t see her for another 6 months at least.


    I don’t think the TW finished till the 4th Feb ???

  73. Window open until 23.00 tomorrow Eddie, still a chance of signing a hunky and expensive striker for you and Micky. 😀

  74. Eddie says:

    4th? really? now that is good news 🙂

  75. Eddie says:

    NG 🙂 🙂 there is no me and Micky – he chickened out

  76. Eddie

    He Coronation Chickened out 🙂

  77. stevepalmer1 says:

    She probably needs the six months to recover, safe trip mate.

  78. Eddie says:

    nb 🙂 yeah! That chicken recipe deserves Joke of January award! Priceless

  79. Where’s the Hippies pre match?

  80. You did notice that Chas uses Gel on his hair

  81. Eddie says:

    of course I did, I never had his as a vain man 🙂 also, they both have blue eyes 🙂

    seriously though, I would value their teeth at £100k per set, amazing. The pain, anguish, discomfort, time plus the tangible bills I spent over the years on dentists!! They are lucky boys

  82. He’s writing it at this very moment NB, with flowers stuck to the top of his bald head. 😀

  83. Big Raddy says:

    NB ….Keep your hair on

    There is a rapidly written

    New Post

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