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  • Writer's pictureAlastair Blair

Let's kill football - and sack some refs

Mark Clattenburg says, "The laws of the game are old and they are not compatible with technology. We need to change the laws for VAR. Offside needs looking at. We want goalscoring opportunities, goalmouth action.

"We need to come back down to what we all wanted VAR for - to stop the scandal decision. The decisions that we can't accept because the referee has missed it.

"We have got two big tournaments in the next two years, the Euros and the World Cup, so it has to work. Referees need it, it just needs to be improved so everyone can accept it."

Mark Clattenburg is an arse. `Not only that, but what he is suggesting is dangerous and will make football even more crap than it is now with VAR currently killing the game millions love (see previous blog). The excitement and joy of attending a match or even watching it on the TV go the moment you realise that a goal can't be celebrated in that moment. The ludicrous lines across the pitch to show that the epidermal layer on a player's foreskin is offside are a joke. Waiting minutes while they rock and roll the pictures back and forward to see if there is a tiny bit of contact between a defender's laces and a forward's sock is soul-destroying. The new idea that any ball hitting an arm that "isn't in a natural position" is a penalty is a farce. Ironically, players now force their arms into the most unnatural positions possible (behind their backs) in order to avoid giving away a penalty. Handball used to have to be deliberate and that was subject to a referee's subjective view, but so long as they weren't biased (there is evidence that some were in the past), I can live with that .

As for the idea that the rules need to change to keep up with technology, it makes me want to weep. I recall reading many years ago that the reason football is the most popular game in the world is because the rules, as drawn up in the nineteenth century are as near perfect as it's possible to be. You only have to look at the ridiculous change to the law about the ball clearing the penalty box from a goal kick to realise what happens when pillocks like Clattenberg start tampering with the game. Now, as the ball is passed around the box, minutes are wasted every game in tedious 'action' that invariably leads to the ball being hoofed up the park anyway. The top players in the top leagues can (just about) get away with this: those in lower leagues are simply not able to do this with any regularity. Fans want to see the ball in the opponents' half, and preferably in the opponents' penalty area, and ideally (St Johnstone strikers take note please) in the opponents' net. Fannying around in your own penalty area is not what we want to see.

Clattenberg complains that referees lost their jobs before the introduction of VAR, citing Martin Hansson, who missed the famous Thierry Henry handballagainst the Republic of Ireland - which finished his career. A one-off error like that shouldn't finish anyone's career (in fact, there is a Russian linesman who is a national hero in England for his error in the 1966 World Cup final), any more than Saints' strikers blowing chances this season should finish theirs. The natural course of events is that if referees (or strikers) keep making mistakes/failing to take chances, then they move down a league. That's what happens in every other area of work and referees should be no more immune to it than anyone else.

Football is far too important to be left to the likes of Clattenberg and the TV pundits who revel in dissecting the game on the unnatural surface that is a video screen. We need to get back to the days when we knew that there would be mistakes made (even if it means that the Old Firm get breaks the others don't), and that everyone is human and prone to error. And referees need to be able to be demoted if they are not up to their job. They could start with that twat who refereed Saints' game at Aberdeen.

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