Boxing is the Sweet Science and Football is the Beautiful Game. Both have similar qualities with the game of chess. Thrust, parry, defend, tactics, and attack, all aspects of all three sports. All three have one more thing in common—a referee.

All three are as organic as you can get. Just competitors and a referee. How nice is that? Players playing, refs reffing. Fans settling into their seats looking forward to the contest. A contest with flair, precision, and also good refereeing. But with all human endeavours there are things that go wrong. Human frailties both mental and physical add to the fabric of the games. Depending who you tie your allegiance to, you’re either having a cheer or a boo. Being human makes the competition enjoyable.

Football is the most popular game on this planet. All that is needed is a ball to play with, a brain, and muscle to win the match. The least expensive sport at its roots gave the world the best game. Unfortunately, over the years and decades of football in almost every country, the innocence and spontaneity of the game is slowly being whittled away. Strict adherence to a manager’s tactics make the game more stilted. It’s why Jack Grealish with his flair is such a breath of fresh air. Team owners demand results, leading teams to play conservative as a point is better than none. The detriment of Sky Sports with their mega billions now dictating when games can be played is harmful to the game as well.

The biggest detriment? VAR— Video Assistant Referees. It has its place, but not in football. The flow of the game is disrupted, players play with the knowledge it is watching, and it can create a referee who will depend on digital means to make the call instead of using his instincts of hundreds of games. It stops the game for minutes at a time, can make calls once play has continued, and it has no eye for a team’s advantage or disadvantage. Might as well watch American football with all its stoppages in play. (Sorry John) I guess I’m saying it’s detrimental to the “sport” of football. No official of the game is going to argue for it’s removal. It’s become too important financially and it’s a crutch no one is going to stop using.

If it’s going to be a permanent fixture of football then there needs to be ongoing corrections to the way it’s used.

Firstly, I’d put the use of VAR into the manager’s hands. If he/she feels strongly enough to use it then there should be a penalty of some sort if he/she is found to be wrong. Are yellow cards to managers for delay of game reasonable? A limit to how many times it can be used over a number of games. I think twice a game would create enough doubt to give any manager some thought. Then I think 5 yellows given to earn a game suspension. Let’s say in 5 games.

And secondly, offsides are definitely a yes or a no proposition, but with VAR the length of one’s nose will put you offside and that’s ridiculous. Pick a body part any body part as the only means to be offside. My choice is the foot. If the foot is onside, then the whole body is onside. Easy, eh?

Just get back to making the afternoon match as organic as it’s supposed to be.

Comments 29

  1. Absolutely agree on offside, Ian. It’s the foot.

    Being quicker to initiate movement toward the ball, or timing a run perfectly (and having your arm pumping ahead as you run) should have nothing to do with whether you’re ‘beyond’ the last defender.

    If your feet are level or behind when the ball’s played, you’re onside.

  2. Ian, much as we all hate the way VAR is often being used and abused, the answer is surely to make it work better rather than getting rid of it.
    VAR has become a normal part of many other sports and it’s surely only a matter of time before the same happens with football. Unfortunately we’ve seen over the years that football authorities have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards any sensible change so no doubt it’ll take a while before they make sensible changes to VAR.
    Using the foot as the reference point for offside . . . . . seems obvious doesn’t it. . . . . . I wonder how long we’ll have to wait before it sinks through the thick skulls of the rule makers.
    We’re able to use goal line technology perfectly effectively (when it’s switched on), but how difficult would it be to use it for throw ins and corners?
    Giving managers or captains a fixed number of reviews is an interesting one and seems to limit frivolous appeals in Cricket. It would also create talking points in the game, for example when a captain uses all his appeals and then can’t complain against a clearly offside goal.
    Imagine if whinger Saka was Crystal Palace captain . . . . .he’d use all his appeals in the first 5 minutes!

  3. For about 12 million apparently. They turned down bids in the summer for 30.

    He looks a very good all round player.. Scored some lovely goals. He’s mobile. Energetic. Good on the ball, good forward passing. He can travel with the ball which os huge to us

    Hopefully a couple more to follow. We are short in areas

  4. I agree and and thanks for the article mate.

    What we are going to get as time goes on are refs that never refed without VAR at the top level, and also Strikers with big feet will be penalised 🙂

  5. Have never seen Sanson play but from some of the highlights videos I’ve just watched , my gut instinct is what I got with Carlos Sanchez and to a lesser degree with Traore . Looks very energetic but his ball control looks very loose. He also gets pushed off the ball to much for my liking , he looks stockier than McGinn but not nearly as strong . I know i’m just watching someone’s idea of highlights but aside from a few left footed shifts to avoid tackles , his close control aint all that !

    I’ll give the lad a chance though , I still think Traores control is a bit off but he is getting better all the time and I do believe in the coaching staff at Villa. Cant see him making an impact this season but i hope i’m wrong and anyway what do i know ? If Deano likes him then he’s good enough for me !

  6. Hey Ian ,
    Good article , of course it has to be the foot ffs , anyone who has ever played the game at any level understands that .

    Can you comment on the rumors that you lot are gonna give Trump political asylum ?

  7. Thanks John , hope everything is good with you . I look in on y’all regularly but most of the time I’m happy just to soak up the vibe
    What a great time to be a Villan.

  8. Hi Ian ,
    I know what you mean mate , but the Trump fun is only getting started now! It’s like all of his acolytes are radio active , they can’t hide anywhere and you know they are unable to keep their mouths shut!

  9. Finally , a shout out to Runtings , some very eloquent words on the BLM issues and a timely reminder to us all to look beyond our own individual echo chambers. I experienced some mild harassment from Uk Police and customs because of an Irish accent at a time when Irish extremists were doing very bad things in England. To be selected for random Police attention because of my colour is totally inconceivable to me.
    Because I can’t empathise , I certainly won’t patronise , you’ve Altered my thought process on this issue Runtings , so cheers mate.
    I’ve gotta stop regressing to the mean.

  10. prox

    yeah man good vibes only with villa now. It’s like a massive weight off. 10 years of watching your beloved club be ran into the ground to siting back and trusting the process knowing we are in safe hands. lovely

  11. Hope Wesley is fit enough to be on the bench. He might be better with this new team

    Barkley hopefully stays fit

    Hourihane gone, Santon in

    Next upgrade trezeguet out someone else in

  12. nice one Ian
    VAR is a new ish thing and before it came in i was one that was saying why dont we have it like rugby , tennis ect … now its here it has caused as many talking points as it has accurate decisions

    I think there is still hope for VAR it will be constant tweaking over the next few years that may see is mainly happy with it though it could never be perfect and like you say the game spontaneously throws up controversial scenarios

    Trinity it was good to see you post … blessings fella ..proxopera thank you fella
    I being born in the UK of course have a lot of English friends and it was surprising to me how many didnt have any real awareness of what black people in this country experience compared to them … so its been an education having conversations with people I have spent good times and general life with that didnt really get it …. as the great Bob says Who feels it knows it

    It is very annoying to put it politely when the campaign for equal rights and treatment for black people is put aside and people instead talk about the organisation delivering the message ,,, weather its BLM Kick it out Say no to racism .. labour , conservative liberal or anything else
    when people keep talking about the organisation they are avoiding the matter in hand and politics is the perfect tool that

  13. conor hourihane absolute top man wasnt prepared to sit around on the bench
    He was a key player in getting out of the horrible championship wishing him all the best and forever greatful for what he has done for the villa he has earned his bucks while with us its crazy that the club has out grown him so quickly

  14. runtings,

    Three things:

    1. Hello, Trinity! Hope you’re well.
    2. Absolutely on message vs. messenger
    3. Conor, yes, very admirable, great servant. Lansbury could take a lesson or two.

  15. Can’t see anything but a city win unfortunately

    They are class and will be a lot shaper than us. It could be a long night

    But we can pull a surprise off. Hope Barkley is involved. Hope when he comes on we can stil win the game and he can do that for us

    Newcastle we have to win.

    We can beat Spurs to

  16. Frem,

    Yeah, the barcodes are one where we’d expect a result. But don’t forget about the games in hand when it comes to slipping down. City might be penciled in as a loss regardless of circumstance, but there’s no reason we can’t get something from the others.

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