Without a lot of herald or press coverage, UEFA announced at the start of the week that there will be five referees on the pitch for all Europa League matches next season. An additional pair of eyes will be stationed behind each goal, focusing on incidents in and around the penalty area.
I’m 100% behind this move by Michel Platini. The debate about video replays seems to polarize fans’ opinion, and I’m no different. I just can’t see a workable situation that will cover the most contentious decisions in a way that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the game.
The vantage point from behind the goal will perfectly supplement the referee in the middle of the pitch. Between them, they should be able to make better quality decisions that will make the game more fair. The reports from the trial of the system reported fewer controversies and and reduction of holding and pushing at set-plays.
Back in the days of the Soccer Shout podcast (circa 2005-06) I was a big proponent of this approach – before it was being talked about by UEFA – so I’m going to throw a few more predictions into the ring:
- Five referees in the Premier League in the 2010-11 season.
- Five referees in (gasp!) the World Cup.
What do you guys think – about the system and my predictions?