Grassroots Coaching

Sending Offs That Spoil the Game

The new BT TV deal gives the Premier League £1 billion a year in television income, even before the overseas rights are factored in. Add to this income from march ticket sales, marketing, sponsorship income, income from other competitions such as the Champions League, FA cup etc it is little wonder they the Championship play off game is estimated to be worth £100 million to the winner.

Football just isn’t about sport any more, it is the entertainment business. Football is the main driver for BskyB subscriptions on which their business depends on. For the period 2013 – 16, the Globa TV rights, excluding the ByskyB domestic TV deal, are expected to exceed the £1.6 billion generated from the previous deals.

So football works. Why change anything?

Because, in my view there are times when the many millions of fans who watch Premiership football on TV are short changed when a player is sent off for two innocuous offences or a red card that shouldn’t have been given.

Often, the effect on the game when it becomes 11 v 10 is that the game is spoilt as a spectacle. Whilst it is vitally important that the referee applies the rules of the game, there are many times where players are sent off for what is effectively two innocuous yellow cards. Those are the rules. Great controversy for the fans and the media. But often the game is then spoilt. The team with 10 players put everyone behind the ball. If the team with the 11 players score, that pretty much is that. Game over.

In the previous blog post I discussed the use of a fourth technical official to assist the referee and their assistants. This team of four officials, utilising modern technology and TV coverage along with instant communication can surely determine what is dangerous and violent play and warrants a straight red card, and what is a mistimed tackle or two innocuous offences that sees a player sent off.

Situations where defenders and goalkeepers have to make do-or-die split second decisions in the penalty area and mis time them very often result in red cards as they are deemed as the last man and denying a goal scoring opportunity.

These are the situations were a red card is issued and the game drastically changes, very often for the worst for the spectators of the game and for the game itself.

I offer a solution

Imagine now, instead of a red card for these offences, a green card was issued. The green card means that the player is still sent off, but only for an agreed period of say 10 to 15 minutes. The result would be a power-play situation for the team with 11 players. How would the team with the extra player react tactically? How would the team with 10 players react tactically? What would happen during this 10 to 15 minute period to the game? What happens after that sending-off period, does the manager send on the same player?

Take the recent Arsenal V Man City Premiership game, shown live on ByskyB and around the World. After 10 minutes the ball is headed down into the Arsenal penalty area. Koscielny wraps his arms around Dzeko and wrestles him to the ground. Dzeko is, in the referee’s opinion, denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. A penalty is given, Koscielny is sent off. Same situation, but Koscielny is given the green card and sent off for 15 minutes. Man City now have a 15 minute power play situation. Do they change their formation? What does Wenger do tactically? Does he make a substitution as he is without his main centre half, or does he take a risk and save the substitution and adjust his team tactically during the Power Play?

11 minutes after the sending off, Milner scores for Man City. Man City are 1 – 0 up and have 4 minutes of the power play left. 15 minutes after the Green Card, the power play is over, the game is now back to 11  v 11. Man City have the advantage, but Arsenal are back in the game. Lots of possibilities for the game now.

But due to the current system, we had a situation where there was a permanent one man advantage, Man City extended their lead to 2 – 0 after 30 minutes and the game was effectively over, despite Arsenals valiant attempts to make a game of it.

Imagine that the game stayed at 1 – 0, Arsenal were back to 11 players and with 15 minutes left, Vincent Kompany gets sent off for a two footed, dangerous tackle. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but the fourth official can quickly review the tackle and help out the referee with the sending off decision. The fourth official, after reviewing the tackle in slow motion, decides it was two footed and Kompany should be sent off with a straight Red card for dangerous and violent play. Arsenal now have the advantage with 11 v 10 for the final 15 minutes and are only 1- 0 down.

I am all for controversy and drama. Besides the quality of the football, this helps sell the game. But not when the vast majority of games are spoilt when a player is sent off for two innocuous yellow cards or for denying a goal scoring opportunity in the penalty area or as the last man. The green card option would, arguably provide a lot more drama and controversy and also provide many more talking points relating to the tactics and decisions that the respective managers have to make .

What is your view? Let me know in the comments below.


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