This is getting silly. As if corporate boxes, rocketing ticket prices and outrageously expensive merchandise have not inflicted enough damage on the game we all love.
Now, in the infinite wisdom of some imbecile within the FA, decision reviews using video technology are being seriously mooted. Unilateral powers for officials to pause a game and weigh up an incident that required their intervention are now a very real possibility. And this ludicrous discussion was all sparked by West Bromwich Albion falling on the wrong side of a dubious penalty.
In an intoxicating 2-2 draw between West Brom and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Blues midfielder Ramires saw fit to tumble over the dragging limbs of Steven Reid and in so doing secure a stoppage time penalty for the home side which Eden Hazard duly converted. Totally undeserved, completely unjust on the visitors, but this is football.
Well, actually it isn’t, not if you’re name is Mr Peace and you’re currently employed by West Brom. Not a single referee has clamoured for video replays, nor a player nor a disgruntled manager. But good old Jeremy Peace has taken a stand , the Baggies chairman citing 4 separate decisions that he claims have cost his side 7 points. Wise old Jez, how fans will thank thee for suggesting that the intensity and speed with which Premier League football is played should be sacrificed because his team did not get their own way.
And he did not stop their either, calling for a meeting with Mike Riley, now head of the Professional Game and Match Officials Ltd, to inquire as to why West Brom are so harshly treated. Peace will be taking manager Steve Clark and sporting and technical director Richard Garlick for moral support.
What a petulant over reaction to a regular, if unfair, occurrence in football. Referees, last we checked, are human beings with 2 eyes tasked with examining 22 men interchanging a small round object at break neck speed. Mistakes will be made. If such discrepancies cannot be either accepted or amended in some other way, then football is at the top of a slippery slope towards becoming a stop-start affair.
Imagine it, Premier League football riddled with pauses as officials evaluate a dubious free kick, unjustly awarded throw in or, as will be the main reason for doing so, halting play to consider a hotly contested penalty. Good lord, it would be like the NFL, with shampoo and carbonated drinks adverts punctuating play every time someone throws a wobbly.
Please do not read this as an anti-technology tirade. Goal-line technology was a necessary progression that is both accurate and quick to validate because a goal, or otherwise, is a black and white fact. The ball either fully crossed the line or it did not. Every other decision that affects play, however, (not including substitutions) is down to one man’s interpretation of a situation. Slightly more tricky to adjudge.
And to those that disagree and rush to support Mr Jeremy “Disturbance of the” Peace, we say this. It won’t just stop at referee’s, or linesmen or the wonderfully useful fourth official. O no, soon enough, if this abominable plan goes ahead, we will have managers calling for the right to question a decision in play.
Penalties will be dissected surgically for minutes, corners reviewed in order to ensure that any resultant goals are worthy and not the consequence of what should have been a goal-kick. Games will drag far beyond the allotted stoppage time as last minute calls are analysed.
Is that really what fans, players and managers want? Is that really what Jeremy Peace wishes to be remembered for, as a balding, self-obsessed Scrooge that ruined the festivities of football for everyone? One sincerely hopes not.