In a light-hearted manner, Gary O’Neil, the Wolves boss, warned that referees must exercise caution when officiating Wolves matches, or they might find themselves demoted to the Championship. He expressed frustration after the 2-2 draw with Newcastle, particularly due to a controversial penalty awarded to Callum Wilson.
Referee Anthony Taylor gave Newcastle a penalty for what he deemed a foul by Hwang Hee-chan on Fabian Schar, even though video replays showed no contact. A panel that independently reviews officials’ decisions unanimously agreed that the penalty should not have been given and that VAR should have overturned the decision, with a 4-1 vote in favor of VAR.
As a result of this controversy, Taylor has been demoted to officiate a Championship match, specifically Preston’s game against Coventry. This marks his first time refereeing in the second tier since 2019. This move mirrors a similar demotion of Simon Hooper, who was assigned to referee Leicester’s match against Rotherham after Wolves were denied a clear penalty on the opening day of the season against Manchester United.
In another instance, Josh Smith, who was refereeing his first Premier League match, was also sent back to the EFL (English Football League) after awarding Luton a dubious penalty for handball in a 1-1 draw involving Wolves in September.
O’Neil, while frustrated with the officiating, humorously remarked, “I think Anthony Taylor is doing a Championship game this weekend, so that’s three referees who have been relegated after officiating our matches. So you need to be careful when you referee Wolves because you could end up in the Championship the following week. I haven’t received an apology and I don’t want one; apologies won’t make a difference. Hopefully, the level of refereeing improves.”
He emphasized the need for better officiating standards, highlighting the repeated mistakes and unfair decisions Wolves have faced. O’Neil also acknowledged that everyone involved, including referees, is held to high standards and expressed hope for improvement in refereeing quality to reduce mistakes and alleviate the pressure on officials.