With the players convinced that they know better than the match officials, they will be assuming the duties of the referee and linesmen from the start of next season. Brian Beecham, Press officer of the Football Association, is confident that the players will be up to the task.
“The players already try to officiate the games”, he said, “by appealing for every foul, throw-in, corner and penalty. We are just giving them the opportunity to do it for real. And, just like the fans, we are having to to tighten our belts. By dispensing with all the match officials, we will be able to save enough money, throughout a Premier League season, to get one of the less affluent player’s Ferrari through its first MOT”.
The home team will officiate the first half of each match, with the away team making the decisions during the second half. The new regime has been rigorously trialled, in a series of ‘friendlies’.
“The system is working well”, said Mr Beecham. “In last week’s match for example, Arsenal were 24-1 up at half-time, with Manchester United coming back strongly during the second half, to record a good away win, 25-32. The abrupt turnaround in Manchester United’s fortunes was mainly due to Wayne Rooney taking charge of the referee’s whistle. He kicked Theo Walcott so violently that the Arsenal striker had to play the last twenty minutes with his scrotum held together with bulldog clips. Rooney briefly toyed with the idea of sending himself off, then awarded himself a penalty instead. When his first effort missed the goal entirely, he re-took the kick, saying that the goalkeeper had ‘given him a funny look’.”
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson gave the self-officiating idea a qualified thumbs-up, agreeing that self-abuse was preferable to haranguing the referee for ninety minutes. Wenger said he hadn’t seen the incident that ended with Wayne Rooney swallowing his whistle, and hoped that a successful whistle-ectomy would allow the England striker to be discharged from hospital before the end of the season...