One of the oldest debates in the game looks set to be finally brought to a rightful conclusion sooner rather than later following yet more controversy in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. In what was billed as a "six-pointer" at the foot of the table QPR opened the scoring after twenty minutes when Clint Hill met a Joey Barton corner to nod the ball over the Bolton line. Despite the ball clearly crossing the line, by a good few feet, Hill was denied his first Premier League goal and Mark Hughes' side never really recovered from being denied the goal in the game's pivotal moment and would go on to be undone by a late Bolton winner.
The incident sparked the FA into action almost immediately following the game and it would appear that we may finally see the much fabled goal line technology introduced into the game, but what changes will its implementation bring to the sport and will we actually miss such talking points when they are no longer an issue?
"Following last week's meeting of IFAB (International Football Association Board) The FA would like to reiterate our strong desire to see Goal Line Technology introduced as soon as possible.
The FA has been a leading proponent of Goal Line Technology for many years. We will continue to press for its introduction once further independent testing is complete later this year, so that anyone wishing to introduce the technology is able to do so at the earliest possible opportunity."
It is no surprise that the FA are leading the charge with goal line technology. They have seemingly been on a crusade for some kind of morale victory and justice following Frank Lampard's "goal" against Germany in the 2010 World Cup. An incident which even saw FIFA forced to re-open debate despite previously, seemingly gleefully, having drawn a line through even discussing the idea. As the IFAB whittled down the companies vying for the rights to provide the technology down to two a second stage of testing to take place from March until June 2012 was agreed. Hawk-Eye is the most recognisable of the two organisations competing for the contract with their technology having been already part and parcel of both cricket and tennis for many years now, infact it was first introduced into cricket over a decade ago and the second outfit, GoalRef, using a more complex sounding magnetic field and a "special ball" to help clarify when the ball has crossed the line.
Whatever the technology behind the solution obviously the accuracy of the equipment is paramount and judging by the Football Association's comments it is something we can come to expect sooner rather than later here in the UK. It now seems that none of the traditional arguments against the implementation of goal line technology, such as any delay to the play, hold any water, which has surely only strengthened the case from the side in favour of its introduction. Obviously this will be of scant consolation to Mark Hughes and his quest to beat the drop, but what will the technology change about our game? Surely the removal of any doubts over whether the ball has crossed the line or not is a good thing? It is fundamental to the game itself after all.
Having watched Hughes' side stutter to that disappointing defeat there is no doubt that the disallowed goal made a huge impact on the game and in turn the result. QPR were rattled and aggrieved to have been wrongfully denied the goal and never got their heads together. Losing such a crucial fixture could have huge ramifications on the London
side's season and their battle to beat the drop and if they were to be relegated by only a point or two all attention will again return to this controversial moment, one which could cost the club upwards of £50m.
It is a shame that finances are again being used as a key argument towards the progression of our sport via technology. Rather than embracing such possibilities as a means to support the officials using equipment which is already proven to work in other sports, football feels obliged to fall back on the argument that too much is at stake
in monetary terms in such decisions rather than a couple of points in a sporting game. This is unfortunately indicative of the modern game. However, speaking of finances, there is also surely a risk that the gulf between the Premier League and the lower leagues will only increase as it will undoubtedly be an outlay that few of our "smaller"
clubs across the country can afford. Football was always meant to be a sport where despite the differing standard of players, facilities etc of two sides, the rules of the field of play are the same for both sides. Unfortunately this will no longer be the case should our top sides be afforded the luxury of such technology. What implications
will this have on FA Cup games for example? Will the technology only be limited to Premier League or Champions League fixtures? Time will only tell.
What too of the room for human error in the game and in turn the debate "on the terraces" that such incident provoked? Yes QPR fans will be quite rightly be smarting from coming out on the wrong side of a mistake by the officials but isn't that part and parcel of the game and in fact what makes football one of the best sports to follow? What else would we have to talk/whine about in the pub after the game? The purists out there will also be concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg. How far will such technology progress? Before we know it the game could descend into NFL style madness as manager's appeal decisions where they feel their side was hard done by and while such referral to review the footage can add drama and excitement to the proceedings I can't imagine football fans taking too kindly to such shenanigans.
Overall I am happy that goal line technology is finally been taken seriously and its introduction seems relatively imminent. There should be no question over such a fundamental part of the game as the ball crossing the line but let's leave it at that! It is also refreshing to see that the powers that be are actually making moves to progress the
sport, finally shaking the stubborn, stuck in their ways mentality that the FA often convey.
What are your thoughts on the debate? Are you happy with the inclusion of technology or should we leave the beautiful game as it is?