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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Saints Preview: Draw No Short Straw

When the Football League’s Lord Mawhinney stated spewing the corporate rhetoric yesterday, speaking in terms of ‘re-branding the product’, it became clear that money not only talks, but sings and dances too.

But if the men in suits really are considering altering the fundamentals of football by banishing the prospect of a draw as we know it – by resolving each game on penalties for an extra point – then the masses had better start voting with their feet, and soon. Mawhinney maintained that it would be exciting. Sorry, but this is England, land of the inept spot-kicker.

He also said it would cause gates to rise in anticipation of the ‘drama’ but if Football were Family Fortunes, our survey says attendances might even drop, because fans are not simply adrenaline junkies who would pay more to see a sadist ritual taking place from twelve yards.

It would be like an Armageddon after the conventional hour-and-a-half. Colchester fans, for example, would be quite happy with a conventional draw down at the St. Mary’s Stadium tonight, against Southampton.

The heart cries out for a first away win in five, although the head says it is more likely to be a home banker; the smart money is that Saints will come steaming in to flatten the U’s, taking revenge for that 2-0 defeat, which former boss U’s George Burley suffered upon his return to East Anglia last autumn.

The Burley factor, however, will not motivate Colchester tonight, anymore than the prospect extra point would possibly liven up the game. Imagine what it would be like if both sides played merely for the shoot-out in Mawhinney’s version of the game. Pretty diabolical.

Mawhinney, who will soon head a working party of League chairmen to discuss the proposal, said: “It's important to look from time to time at what we're offering and whether it's as good as it could be.”

Sure, football is all about winning and not, but the quest to attract more people to matches must not alter the fundamentals of the game; money should not outstrip morals, in other words. Video referees is another kettle of fish being addressed on the cyber-space of the internet this week; leave things the way they are, I say, since every football fan claiming hate for the man in the middle is secretly in denial.

We love having someone to blame for decisions going the supposed wrong way, as it shifts responsibility. Besides, the job of the ref is also reflective of those playing around him; everyone on the field is making split-second decisions – in which mistakes are bound to occur.

With video panels, the subjective element that exists when calling an offside or free-kick ,whichever way, will still exist, while the pace of the game will be affected -when debate during the game replaces actual action, it is time to worry.

Anyway, football is like a bug; once you catch it, it stays caught, so forgive this columnist for his traditionalist views. We’ve been down this road before, and look at what happened, Rudd Gullit, to the last person who tired spread his gospel of ‘sexy football.’

At any rate, gaining an extra point through penalties would not serve to close the financial gap between the top two divisions, nor stop the apathy of some teams that ply their trade in the Championship. To quote Burley’s comments earlier in the season: “You get negativity in this league. There’s an attitude of: “We don’t want to be playing against those teams, we don’t want to be doing this.

“Boards and chairmen have to come to terms with the league they’re in. It’s not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. And they’ve got to be patient, there’s no point in looking back.”

That attitude is reflected by the stark rate at which chairmen sack those in charge – following Mike Newell’s dismissal yesterday, only a few of a possible 24 managers have been in digs for longer than 365 days.

Admittedly, Colchester as a team have still not quite come to terms with the county’s second-tier, either, but are quite happy here. As for Championship football in general?

Even if the tip to Southampton away costs 23 just for the ticket, I would recommend it at the price, one-point draws and all.




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The Journalist

Writer: Matt_Us Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday March 16 2007

Time: 9:08AM

 

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