- The home/away difference: despite media protestations, it is not just Arsenal
- Defeat in the Champions League: not as bad a portent as one might think
By Tony Attwood
This is all rather embarrassing for the media but slowly they are being forced to admit it. There was a time when a mistake was made in a game which changed the result in Arsenal’s favour. Arsenal then offered a replay, and the replay happened. Tottenham have thus far done no such thing.
For Arsenal, it happened in February 1999 in the 5th round FA Cup match between Arsenal and Sheffield United. The score was 1-1 when Kelly of Sheffield kicked the ball out of play so that Morris could have treatment on the pitch.
The normal process at the time, following from such an event was that the opposition would then take the throw but pass the ball back to the side that had kicked the ball out. They would then pause for a moment to ensure both teams were back in position, and then off the match would go. A similar sort of thing happens today sometimes with the dropped ball. Theoretically, both sides could tackle for the ball, but the club that had possession is normally allowed to proceed.
So in Arsenal’s case, back in 1999, Ray Parlour threw the ball back toward the West Brom defence, but Kanu, not long having been in England very long, and not having had the finer points explained to him, thought the ball was for him. He ran on to it, passed it to a bemused looking Overmars who unsure of what to do, kicked the ball into the net.
West Bromwich were then ordered off the pitch by their manager (something which today would probably mean the team would be docked 20 points or whatever crazy idea PGMO can come up with).
Eventually, WBA were persuaded to play on (I know that Arsene Wenger went to speak to his opposite number, and that then, although it has never been confirmed, Arsene Wenger offered a replay if they won the game which they were due to finish off) and so it was. Because Arsenal offered a replay the match and because Arsenal did indeed win the re-started match, it was indeed replayed, and Arsenal duly wonagain, and proceeded onto the next round.
Quite clearly all that Tottenham Hotspur need to do now in the current case is to follow Arsenal’s example from that earlier incident, offer a replay, and then the controversy is over and we can focus on how on earth to get PGMO officials to act in a sane and rational manner (although that is likely to take longer).
So the key question that now arises is that given the precedent, why on earth have Tottenham Hotspur not offered a replay to Liverpool as Arsenal did back in 1999?
Of course, there are many possible reasons that can be given. For example they might have done so but PGMO, fearful of the damage done to refereeing reputations and their own fragile position, might have said “no.”
Of maybe Tottenham, fearful of losing their position in the League through a different result next time might have said “No.” It was after all only the fact that Arsenal offered at once to have a replay that the game could go ahead.
But whatever the outcome, it is interesting to ponder the immediate response of the two clubs. Arsenal offered a replay. Tottenham are (at least at the time of writing) sitting on their hands.
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