If the Premier League get the chance to test out goal-line technology, it will be the first time in a while I have used these words: Great decision. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it should be introduced to the game. We should have had it for the past 10 years and I don’t know why FIFA haven’t done it before now. It’s just common sense and this is an era when we should have clear-cut decisions, because there is no need to debate whether a ball has crossed the line. There have been so many incidents over the years – and that ridiculous Spurs goal at Old Trafford still gets to me. How was that not given?
The issue has become a joke and I’ll be very glad when it’s sorted out. Think about how long people have debated Geoff Hurst’s controversial 1966 World Cup final goal. No one knew if it had crossed the line, and it was only really given because Roger Hunt put his hand up to claim it. Hunt deserved to have his name on that goal. In fact, a few years ago he went to the funeral of the Azerbaijani linesman who awarded it. We all asked Roger if he knew the great man’s last words. Roger reckons he said: “It’s over.”
At least the introduction of video technology will bring an end to corny jokes like that and bad decisions. I think Frank Lampard’s non-goal against Germany at last year’s World Cup was the final straw. Even Sepp Blatter couldn’t bend that one if he tried! It should have counted – end of story. It’s been proven beyond doubt that match officials make mistakes. And it’s understandable, as linos have to keep up with play and if someone scores from 20 yards, how can they reach the touchline to see in time?
Modern sport has grown with TV, with millions of people watching who see things the officials can’t. You get technology in cricket, horse racing and tennis, so it must come into football too – but only for goal-line decisions. We do not want somebody appealing for a foul or penalty and holding up the game, as it would kill it.
This reminds me of when football first started to be televised. At the time, Jimmy Hill was bringing it to the BBC, and I can remember Joe Mercer having a word with him. Joe was a terrific player from Arsenal, but he wasn’t impressed with his games being on TV and told Jimmy so. Back then, players liked to exaggerate their goals to people who hadn’t been at the game. Joe liked to tell people he had beaten five men and banged one in the top corner, even if it was just a tap in! As soon as he couldn’t embellish how great he was, he said the romance of the game was dying.
For sure, when goal-line technology is introduced, the romance will be dead. But we’ll have that one thing we all love more than anything – proper goals.