NFL Reach New Deal with Referees’ Union

By Community | September 26, 2012

The National Football League (NFL) have pleased many fans and players after reaching an agreement to end a labour dispute with regular season referees following three weeks of miscalls leading to public outrage

The eight-year deal with the NFL Referees Association will allow locked-out officials to return to action after temporary replacements had struggled to act as cover for them in the early stages of the 2012 season.

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a joint statement with the referees association: “Our officials will be back on the field starting Thursday night. We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

The replacements had come under increasing scrutiny for a number of questionable calls, most recently a contentious decision that affected the outcome of Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

The tipping point came when the Seahawks were awarded a last-ditch, game-winning touchdown despite replays showing that a Green Bay defenceman had made an interception.

The public outcry compounded the league’s displeasure with sub-standard officiating that had upset fans, coaches and players alike.

The New England coach, Bill Belichick, was fined for making contact with a referee on Sunday, while the Denver coach, John Fox, and the defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, were also fined for publicly criticising officials following a loss.

The regular referees, locked out since june, originally failed to reach accord with the NFL on a new collective bargaining agreement, largely due to a disagreement over pension payments.

But after lengthy discussions between the sides on Wednesday, the two parties made progress and ultimately settled on a new deal that gives officials higher salaries and improved retirement benefits.

“This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating,” Goodell added.

“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”