It’s a multi-million pound business, a global sport watched by all walks of life, the stakes are so high an incorrect decision could mean the difference between winning the league and considerable income or being relegated, and worse, going into liquidation. On this basis, isn’t it time we put an end to referee inconsistency as well as continuous errors, and helped them as well as the players and teams who play our beautiful game?
I, like most other football fans, despair at the ref’s mistakes during a match, whether it’s yelling at the television or screaming from the stadium stand. With so much at stake in every match, the frustration grows with every free-kick given and for each yellow card flashed – no one wants to see their team lose, but it’s harder to accept when your players fall victim to an incorrect off-side goal or if your star striker is unfairly sent off.
Inconsistent referee decisions are also disappointing – would a hand ball given in the centre of the pitch be given in the penalty area? In a recent match between Everton and Middlesbrough, ‘Boro scored a goal which looked dubious at first glance, however replays showed it was a perfectly good goal but of course the ref was booed by the home fans for giving it. Minutes later Everton equalised, replays showed the goal shouldn’t have stood as there was a foul in the penalty area. The commentator of the match summed up our current Premier League refereeing problem; ‘There is no way the ref wouldn’t have not given that Everton goal after allowing the Middlesbrough one to stand.’ – but the ‘Boro goal was genuine! Where is the logic and consistency in that one sentence alone?
With seemingly the same refereeing problems occurring every other week, I think the time has come to take the mistakes and wraths out of the game for the good of the players, the fans and, maybe most importantly the referees. Goal line technology has been used in the Premier League for three years and has been a great success. So why not take that triumph forward and introduce more computerised equipment in the game? Many say it would slow down the match but I disagree if it is done properly.
How about giving the refs a mini iPad to watch replays on? I wouldn’t expect every disputed foul to be watched back on this device, that really would stretch the ninety-minute limit. How about three or four ‘challenges’ per team per match like in tennis? The captain of the team decides to challenge the decision, stops the match for a matter of seconds, the ref watches a replay on their iPad, correct decision given. Everyone’s a winner. The match is back up and running in no time with no arguments over an incorrect penalty or red card given. When you watch a replay on TV how long does it actually take to show it? Seconds – surely this is worth incorporating into the Premier League? I know I would certainly prefer a short stoppage in the game if it meant my team didn’t concede a goal that was off-side or lose the match due to our star midfield player being sent off when he really did win the ball.
With many disputed referee decisions already so far this season, it would seem it is only a matter of time before something is brought in to cut out the incorrect ‘big calls’ by our Premier League refs. Some may disagree, say it will be a distraction, but if it meant your team ended the match with one point instead of three – when all you needed was a win to avoid relegation or to book that final Champions League place, then surely a trial of this idea would be invaluable for everyone associated with football.