Dig, if you will, a picture… of two cavemen and one pair of sticks. As one caveman feverishly rubs the sticks together, endeavouring to produce fire, his Palaeolithic pal, confused and afraid by his ambition and experimentation, wrestles the wood from his hands before killing him with a rock and sloping off to eat some berries that he’s found in the dust. The idiot.
That’s how I feel when I hear pundits gobshiteing away against the idea of introducing video technology into football. Like warming, healing fire itself, video replays are there to be used and to oppose trying them out to see if they work seems like the most stubborn, short-sighted way of thinking imaginable.
We’re at the point where to explore video technology is a complete no-brainer, with only the most obstinate of all Luddites capable of arguing against it. But argue they do, loudly and vociferously, making holy shows of themselves in the media every time they open their face holes and allow a wrong-headed brainspill to tumble out.
Their arguments are feeble and twatty – “But the game will be stop-started every 30 seconds if we allow video refereeing,” they howl. Possibly, yes, but that’s the point of running a trial – it allows us to work out how to best integrate the technology into the game. If managers are given a finite number of opportunities to appeal a decision in every match, there’ll be no more or less stopping and starting than we currently get from feigned injuries or the meticulous preparation before a direct free kick is taken from outside the box.
Another favoured gripe is the misty-eyed belief that football should be playable in exactly the same way for Sunday morning park teams as well as gazillionaire Premier League starlets. Sorry, but that spaceship blasted off a LONG time ago and now orbits Planet Horseshit. The top flight is already tooled up with goal line technology and officials that are wired for sound – and how many pub teams do you know who have seven subs on their bench? Or, for that matter,a bench?
The truth is that referees have increasingly been on a hiding to nothing for years now, with more and more crap for them to have to pick through each week. Not only is the game faster than ever before, it’s also full of fiendish chancers looking to bluff them at every opportunity. Diving is now such an art form that’s it almost become a mental coin toss as to whether they should award a penalty or not. (A tip here, officials – if a player taps his heels together like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz before he hits the deck, it’s not a penalty).
Throw in the fact that every moment of every match is now captured on multiple cameras, giving rise to feverishly forensic analysis of the tiniest error and it’s little wonder that the modern ref is taken about as seriously as Stan Laurel at a bench-pressing contest.
Me, I’m as open-minded as the next man (unless the next man is my next door neighbour and notorious local pervert ‘Swinging Geoff Benson’) and it seems blindingly obvious to me that we should be exploring the possibilities available to us with video technology. Almost every other major sport uses it at the highest level, and now that they do, you could probably fit the collected naysayers into a department store lift.
Yet, it feels as though in 2015 alone, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of radio debate over the merits or otherwise of video technology, with nagging doubters… well, nagging. Loudly. The poster boy for the backwards generation of video deniers is a man who has the humble action replay to thank for his fame and fortune – John Motson.
Last month on Radio 5 Live, Motson blithely dismissed the argument for video technology as “hot air”, which ironically was a perfect description for the bilge that tumbled out of his frightened mouth on the subject. From his hysterical tone, you’d think that the proposal was for the introduction of robot goalkeepers or hologram managers.
Steve Claridge was on hand to chip in with more muddled, reactionary nonsense.
“Goal line technology doesn’t make it even,” he squeaked. “Video technology can win you a game, and yet video technology if you haven’t got it, might lose you a game.” All of which made it seem as if he was arguing both for and against it at the same time.
There’s no doubt that if they’re used fairly and properly, video replays would improve the level of decision-making in football as well as removing some of the pressure that referees are under. The sooner we get on with it and leave the likes of Motson and his caveman pals eating their berries in the dust, the better.
You can follow Andy Dawson on Twitter (@ProfanitySwan)
Is Andy right? Do we need video technology in the modern game? Or are you desperate to protect the sanctity and purity of the Premier League? Let us know by emailing [email protected]