Once again we are seeing changes imposed on our domestic professional game, but for me we must conquer the fears that are holding us back and take the gags off the men with the hardest job of all.

The irony will not be lost on those with the job of administering these things that, no sooner are they bringing in red and yellow cards for those on the touchline in the EPL, Neil Warnock has escaped into the tier above!

All joking aside, you are not going to get many managers changing their spots, and I would find it far more worthwhile to bring in a change that brings officials closer in the eyes of the supporters, as opposed to what could be seen as quite a cynical move, certainly one that only runs the risk of increasing the existing sense of ‘them and us’.

I agree it has only been a matter of time reversing the replay ban in force since 2008, because we can’t expect coaches not to be able to access footage that fans can readily see with the technology having moved on. However, the inconvenient fact remains that the referee and his colleagues are still not going to have the benefit of more than one look at one angle themselves.

The card thing smacks of ensuring more incidents, not less, to me, and might even have been conceived as a way of defining the fan experience between competing leagues in a move that I hope the Premier League don’t feel the need to match.

Thierry Henry

Imagine that World Cup play-off for the Irish in Paris back in 2010, when Thierry Henry’s handball led to a decisive goal that should have been disallowed, had cards been available then to punish protests in the technical area! We’d have been there all night sorting that out, and who could have honestly blamed any of Giovanni Trapattoni’s staff for completely losing their cool?

As someone who has always favoured progress in terms of making the jobs of the officials easier, and also as someone likely to be frequently popping his head round the door of the match centre at Stockley Park for a  natter during the season ahead, I would far rather see the PGMO Ltd let the men in the middle talk after games than be bringing in extra cards and allowing gadgets. Not before or during, but after, and it needn’t be Sky’s cameras they are expected to front up to, either.

Give them a half-hour, 40-minute period to compose themselves and put them in front of the same reporters the managers face in a room, and I’m sure everyone will come to understand their thought process instead of having to second-guess discussions behind their locked dressing room door!

How can anyone claim that any of these changes do anything positive from the point of view of the fourth official?

Who else is caught in the crossfire as managers are updated by staff about decisions awarded the opposition’s way earlier in the game and the touchline descends into tit-for-tat?

Ref Interview

Ultimately the men in charge need to grasp the fact that longer-term thinking is required if we are to allow officials to keep up. Gone are the days when players could shirk accountability as we did by arguing who was who’s man at a corner and taking the whole of half-time to do so.

Wholesale analysis has taken over to the extent there is no longer any place to hide for players, managers, assistants and refs alike, and I am convinced that, the sooner we get to hear the reasonable explanations of the latter, the sooner we will moderate our hostility… while it might even work in smoking out the minority who gamble on decisions rather than stick with the evidence of their own, or their assistants’ eyes, every time.


  1. Have been using cards for coaches all season in Australia and it’s working fine. In fact it helps young referees handle misbehaving coaches by allowing them to give a card instead of getting into an argument when they go to talk to them (which happens all the time)


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