Monday 9 December 2019

David Gough says 'advanced mark' rule brings an 'added difficulty' for referees

Referee David Gough has concerns over the 'advanced mark' rule. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Referee David Gough has concerns over the 'advanced mark' rule. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

A major doubt over the practicalities of implementing one of football’s new rules has been raised by top referee, David Gough.

The 'advanced mark' - which effectively awards a player a free if he catches the ball inside the opposition’s '45' off a 20-metre or longer kick delivered from outside the '45' - will apply from next year.

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Gough, who refereed this year’s Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland final, fears that the new rule will leave referees in an impossible position, requiring them to judge if the ball has travelled a minimum of 20 metres.

"For the first time ever we’re being asked to adjudicate on 20 metres, whereas we’ve only ever been asked before to gauge 13 metres. The added difficulty with that is when we’re judging on 13 metres the ball (prior to being kicked) is stationary," he said.

"It’s a kick-out or a free, so we can position ourselves in such a way that we have a lateral view of the kicker and the player receiving the ball, making it easier to judge 13 metres.

"With the new rule, we’re being asked to judge 20 metres in open play. The player receiving could be straight in line and I would have no idea that the ball has been kicked 20 metres."

The 'advanced mark' rule, which was trialled during this year’s Allianz League, received overwhelming support at Special Congress. However, if Gough’s reservations are shared by other referees it could lead to difficulties, especially in the white heat of championship action.

He has no such concerns over the 10-minute 'sin bin', which will replace dismissal as the sanction for a 'black card' offence.

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"It’s just an extension of a rule that’s already there in that the player leaves the field and you mark down the time and when the time has elapsed he comes back on. It’s quite simple really," he added.

Despite the ever-increasing workload on officials, Gough rejects calls for two referees, believing that it would cause serious confusion.

"The fascinating thing about refereeing is that we’re all trained the same and we’re all trying to implement the same rules, but we have different personalities and that’s the cause of inconsistency. We all have different styles. We’re all amateurs, not professional and we’re not going to get to the level of consistency without going down that route, which won’t happen.

"If you had two referees, you could end up with one refereeing the game entirely differently to the other. It would cause mayhem. It would also require an awful lot more teamwork between the two officials, a huge amount of scrutiny on the appointments and on what referees that might be paired together."

Gough asserts that the biggest problem for referees is the lack of clarity in the rules.

"There are way too many of them - if they were simplified it would make our job easier. And every year new rules are brought in. At Congress this year, we were talking about 43 different aggressive fouls that referees have to categorise in their heads– and that’s just aggressive, player-on-player fouls.

"As I said at the time, Lee Keegan throws a GPS at a football and now we have another rule. Then David Moran tries to get lifted by Tommy Walsh and there’s another rule. And then someone’s not happy with the application of a different rule, or the way the game is being played now, so another rule is introduced.

"We’re just getting more and more rules, which means it’s getting more complex and brings more inconsistency," he said.

Gough would favour the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for GAA games, subject to certain restrictions.

"I like the idea of being able to turn around in a stadium like Croke Park and ask for a review, watch it and have your microphone (talk) released to the public so they can hear - as in rugby - what’s happening. They’re watching the same game and they could listen to your thought process, watch the replay and listen to what you are saying.

"I don’t like the thought of it being in a studio miles away and someone else making a decision that is not communicated (to the public) and you are left standing with an earpiece surrounded by players. That is not good. That kind of secrecy is the issue with VAR in soccer at the moment.

"The rugby guys have it down to a tee. It’s totally open, totally transparent, everyone watches the same clip. Everyone has access to the conversation.

"It would be fantastic (in GAA) if we could use technology to help us because all we want to do is make the correct decision," said Gough.

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