Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back

By Sam Wallace

IF only the fourth official had access to replays and could advise the referee. If only he could watch it all in super slow-mo from six different angles while we awaited his decision.

If only he had a Sky+ subscription, we would never again have to suffer the absurdity of the wrong man sent off. While you're at it, get him the Sky Atlantic package too, and he can explain the plot intricacies of True Detective over the headset to the ref during lulls in play.

It starts again, those demands for "video technology", football's cure-all solution to refereeing errors. Andre Marriner's cock-up at Stamford Bridge on Saturday was so monumental that, from the moment he mistook Kieran Gibbs for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was inevitable that the something-must-be-done brigade would saddle up.

What happened was a mistake, and, yes, it was a bad one, but football goes on. The solution? Referee better. But add in-game video reviews to English football and the game changes for ever. The potential for chaos would be boundless.

In a sane world, Marriner would have taken Oxlade-Chamberlain's word for it and rectified the mistake. But this is not a sane world and the players, and their managers, have done as much as any to make it that way.

The modern instinct is to exploit every potential advantage, and video reviews would offer a thousand more at the expense of the game.

What now for Marriner? He will find himself on the Mike Riley naughty-step for a bit and suffer the usual flurry of bumptious demands for him to apologise in person – as if that makes a bit of difference when he has obviously made a mistake.

Belfast Telegraph

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