The Sweeper: Neil Warnock’s Case for Goal-Line Technology


Big Story

It’s a scenario goal-line technology advocates live for.

On Saturday, everyone believed Crystal Palace’s Freddie Sears had made it 1-0 over Bristol City in the 34th minute when his mid-air strike flew into the net and back out off the stanchion.  Everyone, save referee Rob Shoebridge and assistant Chris Knowles, who adjudged the ball to have careened off the post.  Despite the protests of the entire Palace eleven and a raging Neil Warnock, the goal was not given. Bristol City went on to win the match 1-0 on a late goal from Nicky Maynard.

While video evidence clearly indicates the ball did indeed cross the line, it’s not as if it was a close call.  It was so obvious in fact that Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan berated Bristol City players for “cheating” by not fessing up about the goal. Both his and Neil Warnock’s post match comments are currently under investigation by the Football Association; one can only hope the FA has a good, long look at Warnock’s remarks regarding goal-line technology.

As the Offside notes, the Palace skipper makes a very compelling case.  “We can put a man on the moon, time serves of 100 miles per hour at Wimbledon, yet we cannot place a couple of sensors in a net to show when a goal has been scored…I feel sorry for the referee because he didn’t get any help. But how can I mark him after the game when he spoils a match with a mistake of that importance?”

Keith Hackett, the Professional Game Match Officials Board’s general manager, has publicly apologized to Crystal Palace, but saying sorry will not generate one or three points, points that are increasingly vital to clubs fighting for promotion in these financially uncertain times.  Despite the tirelessly documented pros and cons of goal-line technology, surely we can all agree decisions like that made at Ashton Gate yesterday afternoon should never be allowed to happen again.  Doing nothing means they almost certainly will.

North America

  • The “Beckham is Cracking Up in Tinseltown” narrative got some much needed story progression after the LA Galaxy midfielder was sent off in the 17th minute against the Seattle Sounders for a nasty tackle on Peter Vagenas.  Here is a typical paint-by-numbers English newspaper write-up.
  • American Charlie Davies bagged two goals for new club Sochaux in a 3-2 loss to Bordeaux.  Is it good or bad for soccer’s image in America if a homegrown player makes good for a French soccer team?
  • Ben Knight over at Onward Soccer tries to break down why the Canadian Soccer Association insists on failing over and over and over again.  Warning: it’s…complicated.
  • Jack Bell discusses the fortunes of the Women’s Professional Soccer league’s Skye Blue FC, a team on the verge of a spot in the championship final in the inaugural season.


Richard Whittall can normally be found droning away at

7 thoughts on “The Sweeper: Neil Warnock’s Case for Goal-Line Technology

  1. hmmmm

    “American Charlie Davies bagged two goals for new club Sochaux in a 3-2 loss to Bordeaux. Is it good or bad for soccer’s image in America if a homegrown player makes good for a French soccer team?”

    It can only be good. The average american sports fan doesn’t have the slightest clue as to the unwritten hierarchy of clubs across Europe.

  2. Lars

    and not only that, any of the loonies who regard France as an enemy of the US today are more likely to be NASCAR fans than soccer fans..

  3. Damon

    The referee from the Palace v Bristol City game has been banned for a couple of weeks. The thing is I think with this issue is not one of technical rulings and goal line technology.

    The issue is one to do with the old adage ‘back of the net’.

    The problem is to do with the way goal/goal stantions and goal frames are set up nowadays. They are to ridgid and square. I am not too aware of the legisalation and the likes about goal netting but if goal frames just had excessive amounts of netting in the back of the net i.e. a means of the ball nestling in the back of the net this issue would not have occured.

    Bristol City like so many other clubs have a goal frame that was more like a hockey goal. At the back was a steel framework that meant that the ball just bouned back out. The way the ball sped in and out made it impossible for the referee to judge what had actually happened.

    When I play football we pin the back of thw net down with secure pins. This format ensures that no football would ever bounce out once knocked in.

    The issue for me then is one of football netting/goal frames modernising too far and creating problems for itself. Perhaps if groundsman fixed the back of the net to the ground via secure pins it would ensure that when the ball is knocked in, it remains in the ‘back of the net.’

    After all ‘back of the net’ is one of the games favourite soundbites…do we want that to be replaced by stuff like ‘goal technology robots’ or ‘virtual referees’.

  4. Richard Whittall

    The problem is though is that the stanchion is just one of many variables which can prevent a referee from awarding a goal. I always remember Roy Carroll dropping the ball past the line against Spurs.

    In many ways it was just as obvious as Sears goal, but because it came after a long punt up field, the officials weren’t able to catch it. The point is, if referees aren’t able to spot the ball crossing the lines in the most favourable of circumstances, how can we trust them to make the right decision when it’s not as clear?

  5. Chris Nee

    The goals at Bristol City are slightly unusual. Most league goals now are constructed of the frame, with a square net behind it which is pegged to the ground and held up by a post some distance behind the goal.

    At Ashton Gate, as we’ve now learned, there is a metal frame running around the bottom of the net, and from what I could see this is what the ball bounced off – it didn’t actually hit the net. I’m not sure why City have these goals in place, but if they had the nets which are present around much of the league then the ball would have nestled and not rebounded out.

    Damon, for me it’s not a case of the goals at Ashton Gate being too modern, but of the goals not being modern enough. The rigid, square nets we have nowadays would’ve held the ball.

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