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Question Number: 27625

Law 6 - Assistant Referee 7/28/2013

RE: 3 Adult

Michael Kopp of Orange, NSW Australia asks...

Running a line yesterday,I was the only Assistant on the game,the sun had come out from behind the clouds so at halftime I changed sides as it was in my eyes,the coach from one side blew up and said I was not allowed to change sides I had only changed directly across not diagonal so nothing changed with which team would have the assistant calling offsides,is it legal to change sides and the second part of my question can you change diagonals if say the score is 7 nil in the first half with not much chance of any action down my end in the second half,cant find any reference in the law book

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
The reason you won't find it in the Laws is that it is not there. It is highly unusual to only have one assistant in a game. You do not state the reason for this. Generally when that happens the AR assumes club linesman duties only which mirrors what the person with the flag on the other side is instructed to do by the referee.
The coach here may have felt that his team was not going to benefit from the move across. As you say nothing was going to change from an offside perspective except a better view. If there was no assistant on that side then the CR would have had to adjust his patrol path to take account of that plus any change at half time would alter that. Perhaps an early explanation of what was going to happen would have prevented any concerns or upset.
As an interesting aside I tell assistants in the pre match that if I am unable to continue that the senior referee will assume referee duties and that if I can continue by standing both myself and the 2nd assistant will assume club linesman duties only of ball in and out along the touchline and then only unseen offences such as VC should be flagged. The referee looks after everything else including offside and goal line calls.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Here in the US, if only 1 assistant referee shows up the game is played with a referee, an assistant referee (AR), and a club line. Since each team will be attacking the end where the AR is located in one of the halves, this does not benefit one team over the other. (This differs from my Irish colleague's answer, so you will have to check what the practice is in your area.)

While it is unusual for the AR to change the area where they are stationed, there is nothing in the Laws of the Game that prevent it. I've had an occasion to move the AR's across the field (still on the same end) because one AR was being crowded by the spectators who were all congregated near the AR. It was easier to move the AR's than to try to get the parents to move back. I am also mindful of the field conditions where my AR's need to run. Their usual path may become muddy and slippery during the course of the game, so I might switch them over - but more likely I would have noticed the field conditions before the game and run a reverse diagonal from the beginning. So when you switched sides because of the sun, there was nothing wrong.

Once, and only once in 15 years, did I move a referee from one end of the field to the other. Only one AR showed up, the game was very lopsided, and if he had stayed in the same position he was in the first half he would have simply been a spectator at the half line viewing play from a long way off. I told both coaches that I was going to do something weird and move the AR to the other end of the field where he could be of some use. This was in a rec league game, probably U14 or so. I wouldn't do it in a more advanced level game.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Michael,

I know different areas have different policies regarding the use of club assistants. In Melbourne, we use Club ARs to cover any gaps, though when I was in NSW we didn't use CAR's at all. It sounds like yours is the same.

There's no problem with you changing the side you're on (but sticking with the same attack). People blow up over anything out of the ordinary - you're still watching the same attackers as you would otherwise be, so no problem there. Sounds like that would mean you're no longer controlling the bench though, which isn't desirable, but a decision between yourself and the referee. The sun is difficult to deal with - I used to wear a hat a lot, even on local first grade (but then again, I did 3-4 games a day - with that much sun exposure I didn't really care how the hat looked!), not something I'd often do on shorter days, particularly on higher grades.

In regards to swapping ends to stick with the attacking side - I wouldn't do it. I can understand the reasoning behind it, but I've seen massive turnarounds in the 2nd half. Also, the referee will probably be up the attacking end a bit more - so if there's a a fast counterattack, he'll probably be a bit behind play there. If you're up the same end, then nobody will be in a good position for that attack.

Miss something in this situation, and that could lead to problems down the track as an already frustrated team has something else going wrong. Or it could be one of their few goals for the season - so it's important to the players.

In these situations where you're standing still a lot, don't forget that only spectators pay at the gate - make sure you're scanning the field to watch for any off-the-ball situations; sometimes the games that seem easy can blow up very quickly as one player decides he's fed up with losing 7-0 for the 8th time this season.

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