Wimbledon fortnight provides a welcome distraction for some whilst we are all longing for the next season to kick off. Watching it this year I got to thinking that their challenge system could be the very thing that removes poor refereeing decisions in football.
Before dismissing the idea, just have a think about it. Blatter- if you are reading this (unlikely, I know), then just realise the potential benefits it could bring.
For those not aware, tennis players get three challenges whereby they can challenge an umpire's decision if they believe it to be wrong. It is replayed on the big screen, and if they are right then the decision is amended and they retain their challenge. If the decision turns out to be correct, then it stands and the player loses a challenge. It is a genius system and gives the players more control over refereeing mistakes.
The very same could be introduced in football. With just three challenges per team, determined by the captain, it would not significantly slow the game down and it would remove a great number of the scandalous referee decisions. In disputed penalty decisions, for example, the challenge could be issued in the next dead-ball situation. It could be replayed on the big screen for the entire stadium to see and the truth would prevail.
Perhaps more importantly, it would deter players from cheating. If a challenge is used and it appears that a player committed a particularly nasty tackle or blatantly dived then they would be given the appropriate punishment that they may have ordinarily avoided.
The same principles could apply insofar as the team would retain their challenge if they were right or lose it if they were wrong. If they use up their challenges, then they are at the mercy of the referee. It does not undermine referees, because I do not see Wimbledon umpires being affronted by it. Besides, referees would (if they were honest) openly admit that they sometimes get it wrong.
It would remove the need to invest in goal-line technology, because the challenge system would take care of that too.
With so much at stake in today's game, the players and clubs deserve something to defend their prospects against poor refereeing decisions. A lot can be affected by one wrong decision. For example, if Phil Dowd had been challenged when he failed to dismiss Vidic in the League Cup Final then maybe Villa would have won the game. O'Neill might have stayed and Milner might also have hung around because we had something in the trophy cabinet.
Ridiculous as it may seem, that run of events is entirely possible. It is a certain fact that Villa's fortunes seemed to change after that game. Another example is the challengeable penalty claim in the FA Cup semi-final. I could go on.
For those that think it would ruin the flow of the game, I would argue that the benefits would far outweigh any negative impact that it may or may not have. Besides, the game is frequently halted by injuries and debating decisions anyway. It is a simple system that has proven to be a roaring success, and all that is needed is a screen in the ground (which most clubs already have).
There will be some debate about this, but I would rather have the odd pause in the game to get rid of bad refereeing once and for all.