Video Replays/New Kit/Reserves

There was an underwhelming response to my last blog on goal-line technology and video replays. To answer a couple of points made by those who did post:
Extra officials
Like John in Norfolk I too favour the two additional goal-line assistant referees in elite national and international competitions. Realistically the earliest this option could be introduced in the Premier League would be 2011/12 as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game’s guardian of the playing laws, doesn’t have a meeting that could consider a change to the regulations until next March (to be hosted by the Football Association of Wales at the Celtic Manor Hotel near Newport).
This system has been the subject of an experiment in the Europa League. A goal-line assistant referee might just have spotted the ball over the line in the England game. I’d favour the use of two additional officials in elite competitions whether goal-line technology is used or not. The extra set of eyes would help deter the scrimmage of pulling and holding that occurs in the box at all set pieces these days.
Video Replays
Far more controversial is using technology to determine issues such as the Carlos Tevez offside goal in the Argentina v Mexico World Cup game. I don’t think many fans, me included, would want any system where play is constantly stopped. It seems daft though that where an obvious omission is spotted by the cameras that the error can’t be corrected.
I’ve always been sceptical about the use of video replays. Perhaps the answer lies in giving the decision on whether to review to the match referee. This is the system in both rugby league and rugby union. The referee can call for any scoring play to be reviewed to check on a number of issues – was the ball properly grounded, any offside or obstruction leading to the try, foot in touch or touch in goal by the scoring player or player passing the ball for a try.
In the football context it would have been easy for the referee in the Argentina v Mexico game to have called “check that please” to a video referee in the stands. The decision that the “goal” was offside would have come very quickly. The situation would have been no different to currently where occasionally the referee has to come back to an assistant who has his or (occasionally) her flag raised for some infraction which the referee hasn’t noticed. This happens a lot less than it used to in competitions where the officials have a radio link or the buzzer system is in operation. It used to occur much more frequently in the pre-radio/buzzer days.
Rugby league began using radio links for officials and in-goal judges in elite competitions a decade before football did. It also pioneered video replays under the control of the match referee. Rugby league has a small fraction of the resources available to football.
I haven’t got all the answers but it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of IFAB to allow trials of video technology. Second ranking continental competitions like the Europa League, CAF Cup and the Copa Sudamericana would be ideal. We’ll never get to a situation where video replay provides all the answers but we can improve radically on where we are at the moment. We should give it a punt in my view. In the meanwhile goal-line technology should be introduced as soon as a system that’s as fool-proof as possible can be identified. IFAB should also authorise elite national leagues and competitions to use goal-line assistant referees immediately.
Moving on, I like our new home strip. My only regret is the sponsor’s logo isn’t “parked” under the club crest as it was in an earlier “mock-up” that leaked some months ago. The leaked picture was however spot on about the design which is a classic illustration of my point about less being more in textile design. Simple, clean, classic lines. We’ll look very smart running out in that kit next season. I also like the new yellow and redcurrant change strip. I still think there’s a case for a careful, detailed commercial study of the financial pros and cons of removing the sponsor’s logo from the playing kit.
Lastly, I read that Arsenal is pulling out of the FA Reserve Premier League. The reserves will only be playing friendlies next season I understand. I don’t know the ins and outs of this decision. I’m under no illusion that the Reserve League and the old Football Combination before it was taken too seriously in terms of a competition per se. It was always a way to keep players match-fit, develop younger players and provide games for players returning to fitness after injury. I do find it odd that our reserve goalkeepers very seldom have a run out in the reserves. One of the reasons that reserve games were moved from the weekend to midweek was to allow goalies sitting on the bench to get a game.
Remember that domestically we only allowed one substitute to be named and used until 1986/87 when two subs were permitted in the cup competitions, this being extended the following season to the league. When the Premier League was created in 1992/93 one of the changes it brought was the right to name a goalie as one of three subs along with two outfield players, hence the change in reserve team fixtures. As reserve goalies very seldom get a run-out except in cases of injury or drastic loss of form it made sense to me for the reserve goalies to get at least some playing time in a full game rather than just in training.
Whatever the reasons behind this Arsenal along with a number of other clubs has decided its friendlies only for the reserves from now on.
Keep the faith!

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