Craig Pawson

Neil Warnock: Let’s have video refs – but only for the really big calls

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Craig Pawson
Scunthorpe United’s Stephen Dawson talks to referee Craig Pawson

I’m convinced that technology has to be used to help referees. The game has moved on, it’s so quick, there is so much at stake.

The problem is how we do that without stopping the flow of the game. That’s why it wouldn’t worry me if we only used a video referee for penalty decisions. Outside of whether the ball is over the line – and we now have goal line technology for that – penalties are the biggest calls made by referees.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been a manager who would go ballistic about a throw-in going the wrong way! Even things like that would infuriate me. But you can’t be stopping the game for something like that. It has to be about what happens in the area – a goal either awarded or ruled out, a crucial offside decision or, as I said at the start, a penalty shout.

I don’t know how it would work because there are times when two referees – one on the field and one off the field – could have a different opinion.

My preferred method would be to give each manager one appeal per half. That wouldn’t disrupt the game too much. He’d have to be sure to keep that appeal for something truly contentious and not waste it. Then, if he’s right and gets the decision, he can have that appeal replaced.

There’ll be some managers who’d want four or five appeals per half but I’m not with them on that. Just the big calls. For instance, the one where Scunthorpe were denied a penalty in the FA Cup third round at Chelsea. The League 1 side ended up losing 2-0 but there was an obvious spot-kick not given in their favour when it was only 1-0 and that could have changed the game.

Read more: Keith Hackett on an error-strewn FA Cup weekend

Craig Pawson was the referee responsible for that one at Stamford Bridge. It brings back to mind that I had a bust-up with him while managing Crystal Palace last season.

It was also in a match against Chelsea and another instance of things not going the way of a smaller club against a big one. There were a couple of players sent off in that game, one from each side, and yet John Terry went through one of my players and didn’t even get booked.

I got fined for my comments but I remain convinced that Terry got away with that simply because of the power of who he was. It’s the kind of thing I’d have used a challenge for if we had video appeals.

Another instance from the Cup third round was Spurs’ late equalising penalty in their 2-2 draw with Leicester. Anybody who has played the game could see that Nathan Dyer’s supposed hand ball was totally accidental, yet Bobby Madley pointed to the spot. Never a penalty in a million years. There’s another for a video ref to correct.

Read more: Video referees on the agenda as lawmakers gather for IFAB meeting

Then, on Tuesday at St. James’ Park, there were several tight calls in the penalty area during Newcastle’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United in the Premier League. There was quite a debate over those. Again, technology can help on the odd occasion.

One final thought. With all the money in football, I’d like to see goal line technology extended throughout the professional game. Clubs lower down probably can’t afford it so the money should come from the Premier League. After all, it would be just a fraction of their wealth and do some good for the game as a whole.