World of Sport

‘Terrible tackles’ set to be punished by video refs from next season

World of Sport

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Next season there will reportedly be a very key change in the way that players are punished in the Premier League, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

A three-strong panel of former referees will assess notable incidents from the weekend, handing down appropriate judgements where the original decision is deemed to be insufficient.

Special attention will be paid to reckless tackles which escaped the notice of the referee or his assistants.

The new scheme was agreed as the stakeholders of English football - the FA, Premier League and Football League - apparently agreed at a meeting on Wednesday to go with the pilot scheme for challenges not seen by match officials.

Instead of it being the match referee’s job to judge whether an incident deserves further retrospective action, it has been decided that a panel of former officials should be given the chance to make that call.

The season which has just finished saw one notorious example of just such a challenge: Wigan winger Callum McManaman was only booked for a horrendous knee-high challenge on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara back in March.

Indeed, McManaman's yellow card only came when referee Mark Halsey was alerted to “a coming together” of the two players by the assistant Matthew Wilkes. Otherwise, no on-field judgement would have been made, and McManaman would have got away with it completely.

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Back in March the fact that he had only received a yellow card provoked outrage, but an FA statement after the incident stood by the rules: "Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge.

"This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents. In the case of McManaman, it has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together, though not the full extent of the challenge. In these circumstances retrospective action cannot be taken."

In response, Newcastle chief executive Derek Llambias said the decision to take the matter no further showed that the "current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose".

That appears to be the exact same conclusion that the footballing authorities reached on Wednesday.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew had been equally outraged at the time: "It was an awful tackle. I have got a boy going to hospital and that's a worse feeling than losing. It looks like knee ligaments and he's got terrible bruising on his leg as well."

But while bad tackles will be addressed by retrospective judgement, the decision from Wednesday’s meeting was that it would set a dangerous precedent to take action in off-the-ball cases where it could be argued that both players could have both been in the wrong.

Equally, diving will not receive retrospective action, although that could be about to change if a scheme to eradicate it by the Scottish FA proves to address the issue successfully.

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