Is a penalty review system needed in the Premier League?

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Lewis Camp gives his personal opinion on talk of a penalty review system being introduced to the Premier League.

I believe the Premier League should implement a penalty review system in order to improve the fairness and equality within the competition. Teams are being wrongly penalised for cheating and shameful decisions that are in turn costing them the results they strongly merited.

Other high class sports such as tennis and rugby have used a review system to great effect and are currently showing the Premier League up as an organisation stuck in the middle ages.

The concept has been shoved in the faces of the FIFA hierarchy for years with their response highlighting how the idea would stop the flow of the game and tarnish its simplicity. Football is not a simple game anymore with high financial implications and job scrutiny looming large over all matches in what is one of the most commercially viable sporting establishments in the world.

In such a competitive league in which games are often evenly matched, the performance of the referee takes a more prominent role. With new technology the ref can ensure the result of the match is purely down to the performances of the two teams taking part.

The Hawk-eye computer review system has been in place since 2001 and is used for key decisions in tennis, cricket and American football. The system has been a huge success with former tennis player Jim Courier describing it as “Yet another terrific step forward for tennis, something that will benefit players and spectators and bring more intrigue into the game”.

The Wimbledon Championships is perhaps the most attention the system gets in the United Kingdom and has brought about a new element to the sport that creates both fairness and tactical thinking from the players.

A recent example of where the system would have been used is when Stoke City beat Swansea City during the 14/15 season thanks to a highly dubious penalty award for the home side. Victor Moses cleverly deceived the ref and won a penalty for Stoke as they were trailing a far more dominant Swansea side.

By no fault of their own in terms of performance or individual error from the players, the away side were forced to watch on as they wrongfully conceded a controversial equalizer. The ref had a difficult job of deciding whether it was a penalty or not but if he had the benefit of close up replays like the people watching on Sky Sports, the penalty would never have been given. Swansea had worked all week on match preparation and setting up the team to get a result, but they left empty handed through cheating and poor judgement from the ref.

The Premier League has already demonstrated that it’s keen to introduce new initiatives in order to maintain fairness. The goal line system was introduced for the 2014-15 season and has already helped the ref with key moments in the game that could affect the final result.

The system works instantly and ensures any difficult decisions in regards to whether the ball has crossed the line are officially reviewed.

The league has also introduced vanishing spray which is a visual aid put down by the ref to establish where players should stand during a free kick. The football authorities are being highly hypocritical if they are willing to pursue some concepts but turn down others despite the time in which it takes out of the game being very similar.

The commercial element of the Premier League could be seen as a subtle factor behind the technology not being introduced. On countless occasions we see higher profile sides like Chelsea and Manchester United being aided by wrongful penalty awards, particularly when they are playing poorly.

The influence of the crowd and the league position of the two teams is something that would play on the ref’s mind throughout the game. If a team was facing a relegation decider the ref would psychologically think differently than in a game that had no immediate importance. The ref has to take into account the occasion and the reputation of the fouled player, both of which should not have any relevance in regards to awarding a penalty.

Overall I feel the fact Hawk Eye has been used in almost all other sports bar football suggests it’s a system that needs putting in place. Key decisions are costing people results and subsequent jobs within the game. Fairness and credibility should be the key elements in any sport.