Bantams boss Phil Parkinson is calling for full-time referees in every division to cut down on the inconsistency that plagues the lower levels.
City have felt short-changed from key decisions that went against them in the last two games to leave them holding on to the final play-off spot by a single point.
Parkinson believes that making officials fully professional – as they are in the Premier League – is the only way to improve standards.
Mark Haywood enraged City with his penalty award against Michael Nelson in the midweek loss to Rotherham. The referee and his assistants had also turned up at Valley Parade with faulty microphone headsets.
That followed the Chesterfield draw when the Bantams felt they were robbed of a spot-kick by Brendan Malone after a Zavon Hines shot was handled in front of goal.
Parkinson said: “You can blame the refs and get frustrated with their decisions but they are getting a raw deal.
“You think of the vast amount of money at the top level of the game and you’re telling me we can’t make all referees full-time?
“You’ve got the embarrassment of the officials saying they couldn’t communicate because they are only supplied with one system and it was malfunctioning.
“That’s unacceptable when you’ve some players in the Premier League earning £250,000 a week. There’s a massive discrepancy with that and what’s being put in to help the referees.
“We’ve got refs who have been working all day before the game. They don’t have time to do the homework on the teams they are going to be in charge of.
“The official is also not going to have the time to maintain his fitness levels if he only refs or runs the line for one game a week.
“Improve that training and let the referees work together. They can also go out into the local Sunday leagues and help the officials there so the standard gets better across the board.”
Despite his recent outbursts, Parkinson insists he is not a serial ref-basher and has sympathy for their situation.
“I wouldn’t want our supporters to think that I don’t get on with most of the refs. I understand their frustrations.
“We’ve got 13,000 at the game on Tuesday and the revenue for us and Rotherham to get promoted is huge. But a part-time ref and linesmen are being asked to take responsibility – how can that be right?
“Even in the Championship and the money in there, it can be the same situation. The refs need help.
“It’s an issue that is talked about by managers a lot but gets brushed aside each year.
“We’ve got so many good people in this game, ex-managers like Brian Horton, Frank Clark, David Bassett and David Pleat who could sit round the table and work with the referees.
“The League Managers’ Association are doing something now to help the assessors but it’s still on a part-time basis. It’s got to change.
“Why has it not been done with all the multi-million pounds the Premier League has got? Surely some of that has got to be filtered down.
“It’s like improving players. You can’t do that unless you’ve got the resources.
“People say there’s no consistency but if once a week the refs in each area had the time to meet and discussed video incidents then you would get that. But it won’t change when they only get together every year.”
A win over Burton at Valley Parade tomorrow would rubber-stamp seventh spot if Exeter lose against Cheltenham. Given recent events, Parkinson will tell his players not to look for favours from referee Andy Woolmer.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. They say that decisions even themselves up but maybe they won’t.
“It doesn’t look like it, so let’s not wait for a decision to go our way. Accept we’re going to get absolutely nothing and if we do it’s a bonus.
“Our fate is in our own hands. If you’d given us this position six weeks ago, we’d have been ecstatic.”
Rotherham’s victory edged Burton out of the third automatic spot on goal difference and Parkinson, who is likely to be without Andrew Davies, anticipates an open contest.
“Burton have secured a play-off place so they will obviously come up here to win the game. There is no point in them sitting back.
“I’ve always said that we’re at our best when the balance is right. We play some good football but we can also go in behind for the front players as well.
“I thought it was a committed performance on Tuesday but just felt there was a spell in the second half when we lacked calmness. We became frantic and we haven’t done that for a while.”