Football administration · Laws of the game · Referees · World football

At Odds With Common Sense

On BBC Sport:

Dundee United manager Peter Houston says he fears for the game if every penalty conceded results in a red card.

Houston did not dispute Rangers’ three spot-kick awards as United had a trio of players sent off in a 4-0 defeat.

But he said: “I worry about the game and where it’s going to if we are going to have straight red cards for every incident that’s happening in the box.

“I am frustrated that we have had three players sent off in a game when there was hardly a tackle put in.”

As I have said before:

…, as we have seen on many occasions, a player can be sent off for an unintentional foul which is neither violent nor dangerous, which changes the whole dynamic of the remainder of the game.

Where the foul occurs in the penalty box, the defending team is punished twice over – having a penalty awarded against it as well as having a player sent off.

There is no proportionality. More disturbingly, for no compelling reason, there is a draconian change to the basic dynamic of the game, a contest between two teams of 11.

I have been trying to keep records over the past three years or so, and even though what I have is very patchy, it often seems like a variety of ill-conceived changes to the laws or FIFA/UEFA/FA directives and decisions are at odds with common sense. Referees are caught in between, and you end up with are ever more inconsistent and controversial decisions.

The often repeated view that for any one club, bad decisions even themselves out over the course of a season is not the solution – it merely detracts from the full scale of the problem. Many wrongs don’t even themselves out to make a right. Further, in the longer term, it favours the bigger clubs over the smaller clubs, as the bigger clubs make more noise about bad decisions that go against them, increasing the chance that future bad decisions will go their way.

My own very rough estimate is that over the course of a season, 70% of bad decisions go in favour of the bigger club. Arsenal are probably one exception, but then British referees don’t seem to care much for Arsenal’s French flavour, pretty to watch, but lacking in old-fashioned British blood and guts.

I don’t blame referees as much as I do clueless administrators at the top levels of the game, clinging on to their positions for the sake of power and wealth.

As I have said before, the future of football is at stake.

(First posted on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum)


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