BY now, you will have probably seen the video clip of Jarred Gillett refereeing his final A-League game.
The Aussie, who will take charge of Championship matches next season, agreed to wear a microphone as part of an experiment.
What is clear, in just four minutes of footage, is that allowing referees to explain decisions in real time is the future of football.
He was emboldened by the technology — with the communication between his assistants and VAR officials enhancing the experience.
Gillett commanded total respect from the players of Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar.
It was part trial, part vanity project for the departing ref. Importantly, it showed what can be done when people are trusted to use technology to benefit the sport and the viewers.
Gillett applied the rules clearly and decisively, also striking a balance between good-natured humour with the players and taking charge of the game.
WONDER DOWN UNDER
He took time to briefly explain his decisions to players on the run, giving them a concise message to explain the critical calls.
At times it was a little bit too matey, all a bit familiar out there, but some Aussie vernacular can be excused after taking charge of 159 A-League games.
When the scoreboard flashed up a stat to say he had just given his 4,600th foul, Gillett jokingly asked: “Do I raise the bat there?”
It was certainly a decent innings.
English football, always so slow to react to innovation, should be looking very carefully at this stuff.
One of the problems in the short term is that you know someone like celebrity ref Mike Dean would be dying to get his hands on a piece of kit like this.
And could you really put up with tubby Jon Moss wheezing his way through 90 minutes of a Prem fixture, explaining decisions in your living room?
No, maybe not. Perhaps the women’s game — flush with £10million from the Barclays sponsorship deal — should take the lead with this cutting-edge technology.
They could leave men’s football in the dark ages, with fans tuning in to hear real-time conversations and explanations of decisions.
This is already well-established in NFL, with the "Mic’d Up" players feature bringing a unique take on the sport.
There is nothing to be afraid of.
Football has moved on since Harrow schoolmaster David Elleray secretly wore a microphone for a Division One clash between Millwall and Arsenal in 1989.
Former Gunners winger Perry Groves described captain Tony Adams as a “Tasmanian Devil crossed with Orville the Duck” when he went berserk over his ‘goal’ being disallowed.
Adams, along with the rest of Arsenal’s players, had forgotten he was being recorded when he called Elleray “a f***ing cheat”.
The game is played in a more sanitised environment now. The Gillett test shows footballers can act maturely and sensibly, respecting the referee’s decisions.
Given the conservative nature of English football, it will come as little surprise to discover there is no appetite at the FA or the Premier League to implement such an innovation.
Considering they cannot even get VAR right, it will take some time before they are convinced of the merits of refs wearing mics.
Instead, the A-League are ahead of the game.
Gillett will soon be in England, starting off in the Championship, while he studies research into children with cerebral palsy at Liverpool John Moores University.
Of course, Gillett — named A-League referee of the year five times — is well respected Down Under.
At the final whistle in his viral clip, one of the Aussie commentators confidently predicts he will soon be taking charge of top-flight English games.
And when that happens, the Premier League should let him wear his headset.
ONE WIN IS WRONG
IN 15 years of the FA’s men’s senior player of the year award, only one black footballer has ever won it.
It was Ashley Cole in 2010 — the only BAME footballer to be named the best England player.
It is a remarkable statistic, given the diverse make-up of the England team down the years.
Since the first award in 2003, when David Beckham won it, Cole remains the only non-white footballer to win it.
Given the stature of players like Sol Campbell, Ledley King, Rio Ferdinand, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling, it does seem odd they have never come close to being honoured.
Instead the award, which is voted for by England fans, is an almost exclusive preserve of elite white England footballers.
The 2017 and 2018 award was won by Harry Kane, and few would argue after he captained his country to a World Cup semi-final.
On reflection, perhaps Ferdinand, who claimed Sterling would not be in with a shout of major honours because of his skin colour, actually had a point.
DAN'S NOT FORGOTTEN
INTERNATIONAL weeks are naturally dominated by players who are available for their country.
As England prepare for tonight’s game against the Czechs, spare a thought for Danny Welbeck as he continues his rehab after a season-ending ankle injury.
Welbeck was always a committed international, always happy to be in the England squad even when he started to slip down the pecking order.
The Arsenal forward, 28, who damaged his ankle in a Europa League tie with Sporting in November, is at the club’s Dubai training camp.
Despite his limited contribution at the World Cup, he was a big part of Gareth Southgate’s squad.
When he returns to full fitness next season, Welbeck deserves a run of good luck.
REED ALL ABOUT IT
LES REED has been remarkably quiet since replacing Dan Ashworth as FA technical director.
Reed talked himself into the role when he was fired by Southampton at a time they were hurtling out of the Premier League.
Given the FA’s refreshingly open and transparent approach, it does seem odd Reed has been seen but not heard.
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