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Referees chief provides honest truth on rule that led to John Stones and Ederson injuries



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PGMOL chief Howard Webb has opened up on the offside ruling that has led to injuries for Manchester City stars John Stones and Ederson in recent weeks.

Stones sustained a fresh injury blow in a 1-3 away victory to Everton at the back end of December, forcing a withdrawal from the contest just before half-time when the Englishman stopped Beto running through on goal, despite the Everton man being offside.

Stones’ injury has meant he has been ruled out of action for a number of weeks for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola stating after the contest on Merseyside that the problem “doesn’t look good, probably, but we will see.”

That incident preceded a similar clash involving Ederson in Manchester City’s most-recent Premier League outing, as the Brazil international clashed with a Newcastle player with play allowed to continue despite an offside in the build-up.

Now, speaking on the monthly ‘Match Officials: Mic’d Up’ show discussing the most contentious officiating decisions across recent gameweeks, Howard Webb admitted that despite the injury to John Stones against Everton, the assistant referee “did everything right”.

“In circumstances where the play is clearly offside, the flag should go straight up,” Webb clarified. “In situations where there’s no real great attacking opportunity, the flag should go straight up.

“The flag should only be delayed when the assistant in their professional judgment recognizes a really close one and there’s a great opportunity to go through and score.”

Speaking specifically on the incident involving John Stones at Goodison Park last month, Webb continued, “The one when John Stones became injured was exactly that. Beto was through on goal, great last-ditch tackle by John Stones. The flag was delayed because the assistant knew it was close and we know that he was 3cm offside because we track every offside the decision.

“So the assistant did everything right. I know it attracts negative attention sometimes, but we do it because we want to allow goals to stand that are good goals without interfering with the game by flagging early, knowing that we could be wrong and we’re not wrong often on offside, but sometimes we can be.

He continued, “As long as we only do it in those circumstances, which reduces the number of times, and we keep pointing out to our officials when they are too cautious and delay when they don’t need to. That way, we can limit the number of times that can happen [and] reduce the risk of injury.”

Manchester City are currently in the midst of a winter break, with the club jetting to Abu Dhabi for a warm weather training camp on Thursday, before returning to action with an Emirates FA Cup fourth round tie against Tottenham in the capital.

That contest against Ange Postecoglou’s side will be the penultimate game this month, with Pep Guardiola and his players closing out the first month of the new calendar year with a home Premier League clash against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley.