Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Thinking inside the box

I like Steve Coppell.

The understated manager of Reading FC has a degree in economic history to add to a variety of awards gained during his distinguished footballing career, so when he lobs a hand-grenade in from left-field you know it's directed close to it's intended target.

Reading are searching to bounce immediately back after relegation from the Premiership last year and moved into the second automatic promotion place after recording their fifth win-in-a-row on Saturday when they won away at fellow contender Birmingham City.

In the previous match they were the beneficiary of a late and controversial hand-ball decision against Norwich and Coppell has offered his thoughts on a potential solution to the problem of refereeing inconsistency:

"First of all I defy any referee or someone to tell me what is handball and what isn't. What is deliberate? Some referees give them when it's smashed at you from a yard away and some don't."

"If it's clearly deliberate give a penalty, obviously, but there are so many grey areas that it'd be easier to just give an indirect free-kick."

So, if there's any doubt, why not just give an indirect free-kick in the box? It wouldn't require a law change, only for the authorities to take a lead on using the flexibility already afforded them within the law to make a different interpretation and reach a less punitive solution.

For the good of the game why risk the damaging controversy of upsetting either side for a reason which has a dubious basis in fact - the results of which have massive financial implications for the clubs involved?

So the lesson is, when faced with one of life's grey areas, get creative!

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