Mark Saggers was talking to Alex Griffiths
However the Football Association want to dress up their latest feeble attempt to keep up, don’t tell me it has anything to do with transparency!
Having studied the membership of the so-called diving panel set up before the season started, in delayed response, most probably, to a similar initiative north of the border, I have a number of reservations, I have to say.
Now by sheer coincidence I found myself in the crowd for the game which prompted the very first use of the panel, by which I mean I was not there in a working capacity.
I couldn’t honestly tell you whether Mansfield’s Hayden White meant to dive or not in September’s 2-1 win over Cambridge United at Field Mill, but I can tell you I was apalled at the behaviour throughout of the home team’s boss, Steve Evans.
I noticed the exact same thing from Neil Warnock at St Andrews last week, more’s the pity, and regardless of the merits of their respective claims over individual incidents, nothing can excuse the way both get after the assistant and fourth official… from the instant the whistle is blown to signal kick-off.
It has bugger all to do with tactics or the legitimate display of passion if you ask me, and is nothing short of a deliberate attempt to undermine, berate and intimidate the officials. As long as this escapes sanction in itself, is it any wonder that players themselves take their cue from such men?
Where there does appear to be consensus, however, is that Watford’s Richarlison did simulate the tumble which resulted in a penalty which in turn influenced the result of their game against Arsenal.
In fact, the whole nation was waiting on a guilty verdict, only for the news to trickle through that no action was to be taken, as well as no slap on the wrist for Arsene Wenger.
As a strong advocate of Monday panels, let’s really help the refs and their assistants, not just by using the technology which exists, but by adding to the panel individuals whose own job depends on getting these calls correct time after time. I’m talking about broadcasters, but I’m not talking about me.
By all means leave a player, a ref and a manager on there, but let’s dispel the suspicion that those within football only look after their own by approaching the likes of Jim Proudfoot, for example, or Simon Brotherton. These are professionals who not only have an expert focus when it comes to using all the available evidence, but they are more than familiar with sticking their heads above the parapet!
It’s not just the fans I feel for, it is the likes of honest men like Neil Swarbrick, who was conned at Vicarage Road because he only had the one angle and just a split-second to determine the extent of contact between the Brazilian and Hector Bellerin. And just because there was contact, that does not mean there was no simulation!
Therefore I would suggest, not merely that the FA disclose and expand the membership of the panel concerned, whatever their decision happens to be, but that those members make this built-in guarantee of accountability a condition of their participation.
I’ve simply had enough of the fans of the clubs concerned being treated with such contempt, whether the intentions behind creating the panel were virtuous or not. If we are calling players cheats, and there are plenty of them, then we really need to stand up and be counted as we do so.
Until next time, take care, Saggs.