Club assistant referees set offside by Dutch FA

The Dutch amateur leagues make use of club assistant referees. Members of both the home and away team that will get a flag and help the referee. One of the biggest annoyances in the lower leagues are those club assistant referees. No, it’s not personally, but the problem is that some are not neutral. Players feel the club AR’s are prejudiced and will make offside calls much faster when the opponents are attacking.

Personally I can tell you a lot club assistant referees will not cause problems, but the few that constantly flag for offside are ruining it for the honest club AR on the line. Last season I had the feeling that an attacker was in offside position, but the flag stayed down. It happened three times that game – all leading to a goal. I told the club assistant referee afterwards. His reaction was: “it’s good to be honest”. His team lost with 5-3 due to his honesty.

Solutions of the KNVB

But the negative feeling of the ones that are not honest needs to be solved now, says the KNVB. The Dutch FA wants to do a test now to get rid of this problem. At the highest levels there will be more assistant referees appointed. That’s what is shown in the highest youth leagues at the moment. But that’s not a problem for the lowest leagues. These three solutions will be tried by the KNVB:

  1. Club assistant referees that no longer flag for offside
  2. Club assistant referees that will not changes sides at halftime
  3. Club assistant referees will not be used

Thes three options will be tested througout the second half of the season. What would in your eyes be a good solution? Have you ever dealt with these problems in your country of one of your leagues?

Coutinho offside at moment of pass


  • Dave Chisnall

    Hi Jan,

    When I referee a local league game with club assistants.

    My pre -match instructions is I shall give them the first 20 minutes to flag for off-side, Goal kick/Corner kick and for the ball in and out of play for throw in’s.

    If I feel that one of he clubs are being dishonest especially at off-side decisions I immediately take away both of the club assistants responsibilities to aid match control

    This generally works .

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Good point. If you feel they’re hones you can continue with them. Few years back I watched a game and the club AR who was on the line right in front of me said about a call the other club AR made: “That was not smart. You could see the ball went to the goalie. Don’t flag for offside then. You should first get some credits from the ref and not flag constantly.” And I think that’s psychologically true. When someone flags constantly you’ll think as referee that he might be messing things up. And the moment you ignore him, he might have been right.

  • DG

    Use a Neutral Club Referee. All clubs must name Club Assistants, they will get appointed games like the referee. But to be honest, there is no way of doing it so that it is fair. Any situation will be exploited. Referees MUST report incidents where Club Assisstants are suspected of unfair decisions.

  • Amir SW

    In Malaysia, we have done away with club assistant referees as it is not conducive to referees development. Instead, certain provinces FA insist that each club to send at least 2 participants to be trained up as referee. They are given a week course with theory and practical sessions on the Laws of the Game and refereeing skills. Eventually those who passed in the theory and practical tests are absorbed into the mainstream refereeing family. Still, there is still the problem in this recruiting process, its the difficulty of retention as many leaves due to personal reasons.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      It is good when clubs should provide referees to other club’s games. Here in The Netherlands that is very common in volleyball for example. For lower levels all clubs appoint their own referees. Also sometimes a problem when they’re not neutral, but I see a good development there. More and more club referees are trained and educated.

      Lack of referees will be a problem for the future as well. Not many people are interested in this wonderful hobby.

  • Sue jones

    Most are honest, but the few that are not spoil things. I use them but if I feel that they are being dishonest I simply overrule them once or twice. This tends to work.

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