UEFA are parading the world’s best-known referee Pierluigi Collina to sell their use of a five-strong set of match officials in European competitions to a sceptical British audience.
Football pundits Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher, Ian Wright and Lee Dixon were invited to UEFA HQ in Nyon as part of a Sky and ITV delegation to watch their chief refereeing officer make a presentation about the advantages of having a referee, two linesmen and two additional assistant referees behind the goals.
The four football experts all had their doubts about the system but are understood to have had their views changed by Collina’s concise explanation of how the five officials, working in close communication, allow for better control of a game.
However, the Premier League, surprised that UEFA should try first to influence the opinion of TV rights-holders, have no plans to introduce the extra refs.
PL chiefs remain to be convinced of the merits of the initiative, which is championed by UEFA president Michel Platini, and are concerned the extra resources needed will affect the standard of refereeing in the Football League.
Reducing the triple punishment for denying a goalscoring opportunity in the box — spot-kick, red card and suspension — is to be discussed at the rule-governing IFAB meeting in Zurich next weekend.
But despite the furore over the harsh rule, highlighted by the two Champions League dismissals this week, FIFA have scheduled the debate under any other business, meaning there will be no vote for an immediate rule change.
UEFA, along with England and Wales, are keen for a change but Scotland and Northern Ireland are less convinced and do not want any knee-jerk decision-making. In any event, FIFA wish to avoid any alteration before the World Cup.