There is no doubt who has authority during the 90 minutes, the referee. But as the start of the season loomed, a new rule sneaked in from under our noses. Referees have been told to stamp out on “intolerable behaviour” by players. What do they mean by intolerable? I was expecting it to mean a near break out between a group of players, or fouls that deem a card, but I was wrong. Talking back to the referee is now, apparently, a yellow card offense. I can understand excessive amounts of pointless arguing would get you a yellow, but what about when a player wants to state his case.
The standard of refereeing in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons has been quite poor, as I’m sure many of you will agree. Now I feel footballers are prisoners in their own stadium. This new rule has taken away their last right to defend themselves in the event of an incorrect decision, which is a regular occurrence. I can understand that some actions you can’t defend. Joey Barton’s behaviour against Manchester City, where I think he lashed out on everybody but himself is one example of “intolerable behaviour”. However, what do you think is going to happen when a player is completely through on goal and the referee gives him a red card for diving, this being Fernando Torres for Chelsea against Manchester United. Players are obviously going to surround the referee because he made a terrible call. It’s part and parcel of English Football and it’s what we love to watch.
I wonder what will happen next. Maybe the players have to run around with a gag in their mouths, or they completely drown out the fans’ abuse with a rendition of The Beatles, “Help” throughout the ground.