The Mirror amongst other organs carries a story about Pierluigi Collina, the world-famous bald, referee and the likelihood that he may be invited to join the ranks of English referees this summer. He will then be 45, at which age all referees must retire in Italy: in England, however, they may continue until 'the age of the zimmer frame' at 48.
This, for me, is classic over-regulation, and pumps me full of as much ire as the imposition of a retirement age for high court judges. Why do we feel that one age must be set out as the age at which one must become resigned to a future of dribbling liquidated pears down our bibs as we gaze dislocatedly at the ping-pong on Grandstand on a Saturday afternoon?
Why do we not introduce a more dynamic system in so many areas, whereby if somebody is still up to the job but 90 they can continue? How much skill will be lost and wasted by the Italians if Collina does come to the Premiership? How many rapier-minded members of the judiciary waste some of the prime years of their intellect?
More to the point though, this sort of arbitrary requirement must allow many decrepit incompetents to continue in many walks of life. Surely a number of referees are no longer physically up-to-it at 45? I know for a fact from watching Bromsgrove Rovers that the eyesight of a not-inconsiderable number is already slipping unacceptably! Why can't we have fitness tests for all referees who have been reffing for longer than five years (say)?
What should matter is whether they are up to the job or not, not what year they were born in. Make ability the criterion, not age in and of itself.