Referees at the top level could be in for some hi-tech help, but officials lower down the league ladder will still be stuck in the dark ages.
Goal-line technology is set to make its debut in English football during next season’s Community Shield, while the furore surrounding Nani’s red card against Real Madrid in Manchester United’s Champions League last-16 defeat at Old Trafford has reignited the debate about whether referees need a technological helping hand.
Not that the debate needed reigniting of course. It’s football biggest hot potato and it’s been in the oven at 400 degrees centigrade for the past ten years.
While there’s little argument from across the game about introducing some form of technology to help referees. clubs further down the football food chain won’t be seeing the benefits any time soon.
It’s not quite clear who would pay for micro-chipped balls or goal sensors, but if it’s FIFA, they’ll be loathe to dip into their pockets for every club playing under each football association’s banner, and if it’s the clubs or leagues themselves, the ones at non-league level are unlikely to be able to afford it.
Lower league clubs already get palmed off with referees not considered good enough to officiate at the elite level.
If the same principle is applied to technology, we’ll end up with a coin-operated sensor that only takes penny farthings.
Of course, decisions at the top level can result in multi-million pound consequences, but the effects of poor officiating at non-league level matters just as much to fans of Maidenhead United than Man United.
Indeed, a controversial did-it-cross-the-line incident at this level could end up being the difference between a club being in business or not the following season, while the same decision in a Man City match just means Carlos Tevez might not be getting that diamond-encrusted gazebo after all.
Sepp Blatter has previously opposed goal-line technology because it can’t be rolled out across every league in every country.
That makes me dangerously close to sounding like I might actually be agreeing with something the Great One has said.
But no. Arguing that 20 per cent of English football can’t have video technology because 100 per cent of English football can’t is an incredibly defeatist attitude. Blatter should turn it round and bring in the technology as soon as possible so there’s only 80 per cent of the game left to help.