WINTER BREAK? WHAT A BOOST
FORMER Arsenal chairman David Dein has again called for the Premier League to take a winter break.
“The players have got to have a break,” he said. “They deserve it. It is a long, hard season. More injuries occur in the second half of the season than the first half.
“We have to introduce that and I’m hoping that will be one of the points that come out of the FA’s report on how to improve the England team.”
Obvious benefits to the England team aside, a topflight hiatus would be great news for the Football League.
Weather permitting, most Championship clubs play eight or nine games from mid-December to mid-January.
That would mean them providing the pinnacle of English football for almost a quarter of the season. With nothing else to show, Sky would be falling over themselves to shown matches on TV, handing over hundreds of thousands in the process.
And punters desperate to escape screaming kids and relatives would surely find their Boxing Day fix at Bury or Brentford instead of Man United or Chelsea.
SEPP BLATTER has announced that managers will soon be given powers to challenge a referee’s decision.
It is a rare moment of lucidity from the habitually inane FIFA chief, yet it remains an imperfect solution.
Formative plans suggest managers will be granted at least one TV referral per half, but only when the game comes to a stop. The idea is that major injustices, such as a handballed goal or erroneous red card, will be eliminated.
It will, however, do nothing to combat more insidious offences like diving or grappling in the box.
The solution remains – and will always be – to have a fourth (or, in fact, fifth) official in a TV booth watching the match on TV, with access to split-second replays and a radio link to the man in black.
If the ref blows, he can then double check with his mate. If he plays on, the man upstairs can say ‘Hey, you need to call that back’.