How Tony Adams ensured Premier League referees will never be mic’d up

The Arsenal and England stalwart prevented football from following the trend set in rugby.

Tony Adams and Ian Rush playing for Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.
Ian Rush and Tony Adams Taken during a Liverpool vs Arsenal encounter in 1989. Image Getty/Simon Bruty

The introduction of video replays in football is a move directly copied from the world of rugby where television match officials have been deployed for much of the past 20 years.

One idea the Premier League probably will not be borrowing from their rugby playing counterparts, however, is the idea of giving referees a microphone so that their decisions are relayed as part of the television coverage experience.

And if anyone is wondering why that is the case, they may want to have a quiet word with former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams – or better yet former match official Davd Elleray.

It all dates back to an ill-fated experiment conducted way back in 1989 as part of a segment broadcast as part of ITV’s World in Action documentary series.

Keen to give viewers more of an idea of what an English referee faces on a daily basis, former schoolmaster and future Premier League match official Elleray was mic’d up.

There were just two small problems, firstly, that the documentary makers failed to inform Arsenal’s players of the plan and, secondly, that they decided to film the segment during a tempestuous game against none other than Millwall.

Let’s let David Baddiel take up the story:

What followed was an expletive-laden encounter with Adams taking centre stage for much of the match.

The undoubted highlight comes when Adams, having seen his goal disallowed, is caught calling Elleray a cheat in scenes simply too cringey to even contemplate.

Needless to say, the experiment, coupled with the emergence of Wayne Rooney, has most likely prevented the introduction of this sort of technology in the Premier League.

Previous Post
Next Post

Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.