Why paper over football’s cracks when there is a real cure?
Poor Queens Park Rangers, left to malign this unjust football world we live in. To have a perfectly good opening goal disallowed when replays showed it clearly crossed the line, and in such a crunch game too.
• We are going to get a real sense over the next few games of whether City have taken their foot off the pedal. It would be more than a shame if they didn’t have it in them to kick on beyond just being safe – even though, quite rightly, that has always been the primary focus. Newcastle on a Sunday is a long way to go for a half-baked effort. It’s further than Sunderland, for starters.
• What state the Toon will be in after their late Emirates heartbreak will be interesting to see as well. They weren’t at the races at Carrow Road earlier in the season, but at least they should have some centre-backs on hand this time around.
• Good news at Villa Park then – Brett Holman has agreed to join Alex McLeish’s side this summer, presumably as part of his plans for next season. The Holte End will be pleased the future is so bright…
• Where does English football stand in Europe? After last week’s classy efforts from Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, I’m not sure I care.
Obviously we have no idea what Clint Hill’s header would have meant for the match at the Reebok on Saturday, nor how it would have then finished.
All we can focus on are the facts: QPR defended poorly and conceded two, the goal Djibril Cisse did score to bring things back to 1-1 was offside and should not have counted, and Clint Hill’s original header came from a corner that should not have been given.
Yet what do we get within minutes of Bolton’s win? A blinkered discussion about goal-line technology. Even the FA were at it, bringing out a statement barely after Martin Atkinson had walked off the pitch.
If that is the argument to hold, then we would all have to be happy with QPR taking two points off their relegation rivals thanks to a goal that should never have been given. Possibly.
As I said, we don’t know how the game would have panned out if Hill’s goal had been given – but there’s nothing to suggest a lack of controversial decisions that goal-line technology would not have sorted. And that’s the real argument to have.
The fixation on having special technology that can award a goal or deny one is missing the entire point – as are the FA, Uefa and ultimately Fifa, whose ears and nostrils by now must have picked up an infection given the amount of sand their heads are wedged in.
I’m sure I’ve written this before but I’ll do it again – there is a straightforward solution that would have sorted out the Reebok mess and will drastically improve the professional game. And as any meerkat would say, it’s simples.
The fourth official – or make it a fifth if number four’s duties make them too busy already, which strikes me as unlikely – watches the game on a television feed.
All the replays come through to this TV official, just like they do in the press box and for fans watching at home.
The game goes on as if the extra man and his box are not there – but if he sees something on the replays or before, he can take a look, talk to the man in the middle using those fancy radios the officials currently use, and the correct call can then take place.
No need for silly challenges from dugouts or unnecessary stops in play.
Just an extra official that gets to see what everyone else does – but who can actually make a difference, rather than leaving the referee blind. All within seconds of it happening, and with the man in the middle letting those in the stadium know by either a mic set-up or a signal.
It’s so simple, so all encompassing. It would clear up goal-line issues in almost every instance – the ones it didn’t would be because they were too tough to call anyway.
And it wouldn’t stop there. Bolton get their goal-kick, Cisse’s goal is correctly disallowed and the right result is reached without the officials having their eyesight, integrity and parentage questioned.
With cricket, rugby and other sports that prefer to protect their integrity, it doesn’t stifle talking points. It’s just that the debate shifts away from the boring chat over referees to something else.
And for football, all it would do is improve the game and make it fairer by way of being accurate.
It would be so effective and so easy to introduce. Yet it seems further away than ever.
A green light on the goal? It would barely make a mark in all that sand.