The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master

12 July 2019

The Football League. Shaun Harvey wants me to call it the EFL, but I won't. I don’t like the insistence. Sponsors want me to call the Football League’s trophy competition something that references their company directly, but I won't. And, since the competition is of little consequence to your West Yorkshire Diary, I was never planning to hold off writing today’s diary until we knew who’d joined us in our bullshit group of a bullshit tournament. Sod that.

Harvey and his cronies will never quite fully appreciate the amount of fucks we don’t give about the trophy. But then it doesn't matter to him because when has he ever cared about what fans think? The wolf of the Premier League sinks its teeth ever further into the warm carcass of the Football League, and our proud club will, once again, be forced into the humiliation of playing the youth team of an entitled club — not an "invited" club, as they like to call them.

Well, as Samuel L. Jackson once said, you can stick your well-laid plans up your well-laid ass. Like any other fourth division club, I'm sure we could always do with a few extra quid; I'd just prefer it if we didn’t sell our soul for it.

And now there's a very real possibility that Harvey's successor could bring VAR to the lower leagues after two thirds of fans said they wanted the technology in a supporter survey. VAR is, in itself, as controversial as many of the decisions referees already make up and down the land on any given Saturday during the football season. Goal-line technology is great because it’s a black and white issue. Was it over the line — yes or no? It brings clarity to important issues. I'll have that; a decision that immediately demands acceptance and no debate.

But I've seen enough penalty reviews and borderline offsides using technology to know that some level of interpretation is still required and that, by nature, still allows for human error. VAR, while it clearly has some advantages, is not the all-encompassing black and white answer we're looking for.

It might add a bit of drama to those watching on the telly, but if Jamille Matt's late header against Notts County last May had been retrospectively chalked off because of an infringement spotted by VAR, I'd have been totally and utterly gutted. Authorities might insist that the correct decision was made, and I wouldn't argue with that, but the real damage VAR brings to the game is how it threatens the fans who are at the match.

Say we're in a world where VAR exists at Town games. Would you ever be able to let yourself go wild, hug strangers and then surge ten steps down the Pontoon stand in pure ecstasy at a promotion-winning goal if you knew VAR was lurking in the shadows to fuck things up for you? Would a part of you hold back, because you know the legitimacy of the strike would be under scrutiny? And what one referee would call an infringement one week, another might not the next.

The debate will no doubt continue. Two-thirds of fans is actually a fairly strong mandate, so perhaps I'm in the minority here. I'm just hoping that it's not profitable for VAR to be introduced in the lower leagues because, if it's not making money, the Football League won't be interested in it.

I'm sure you're already aware that the Mariners lost last night’s friendly 2-1 at Boston. Matt Green grabbed our goal, which was another poacher's effort. He's already shown signs that he could be a striker who has the canny knack of being in the right place at the right time. James Hanson also looks like he reads the game well — and Ahkeem Rose's turn of pace to win the penalty at Grantham the other night was a glimpse at the havoc he could wreak when games open up.

That’s your lot for today. It seems the Mariners have a little break between matches now as the next is at Gainsborough next Thursday in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup. That might be enough time to sign a new player or, hey, even see the club handed over to a new owner! Enjoy your weekend. UTM!