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On MLS denial of goal-line tech – it’s the right call

Apr 26, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT


In a perfect world, one where revenue flowed freely through the Major League Soccer tributaries, the league would lay out all the stacks of cash needed for installation and implementation of goal-line technology.

But we are talking about fairly high stacks here. So, far as I’m concerned, high-tech, schmi-tech. Old school rules – for now, anyway.

MLS commissioner Don Garber spelled out the funding requirements Thursday: more than $250,000 for installation at each stadium, and then about $4,000 per match to operate.

(By the way, does this sound like “boondoggle” to anyone else? Microchips and high-speed cameras certainly aren’t cheap … but geeez! Sounds like someone, somewhere is making a killing here.)

(MORE: Garber says costs for goal-line tech is prohibitive)

Adding up the installation and implementation expense, each club would be on the hook for a little more than $325,000 the first year. (The total cost would fall over the course of a few years, of course.) That kind of money may not sound like a lot – and it’s not in the big picture. But in MLS, it pays the freight for a couple of quality players. Or it pays for 4-5 extra bodies in the office to help sell or promote … and which team outside of Portland or Seattle couldn’t use a little more of that.

There may be ways around it; as Mike Prindiville noted earlier today, sponsorship of the fancy technology could be used to mitigate the cost.

Either way, how many games each year would goal-line technology truly affect? Maybe half a dozen, tops? The chips or cameras are only necessary in the closest of calls; most of the time, even when things get tight in there, the officials get it right. Just last week in Dallas, a ball went over the line and was “cleared” from just inside the goal.

It was a classic bang-bang sequence, and could easily have been gotten wrong. But it wasn’t; officials had it right, and immediately so.

Yes, there was an incident in the 2010 World Cup. And, yes, a call has been blown here and there in the English Premier League. But the average MLS match – let’s just say Chicago-Columbus – is not a World Cup match.

I know it may come across as MLS being cheap; but the league is what it is for now … an association where precious few are making money, a league where cost containment still matters. Goal-line technology sounds like what most of us know as a “luxury;” nice to have, but not exactly essential.

  1. bobinkc - Apr 26, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Steve, think on this (I posted it with the original blog about the tech):

    Sorry, sluggo. From my perspective, the constant review of everything is what is killing the major league sports.

    Look at American football: constant review, thrown review flags (even with penalties for being wrong), mandatory scoring review in the final two minutes of each half have all led to stretching what used to be 2&1/2 hour games out to 3&1/2 hour games. And the major complaint against American football was the eternal “standing around doing nothing” that made the games interminable before the added reviews.

    Constant review was instituted in college basketball for March Madness this year. Referees became so terrified of making a wrong call that they were taking 5-10 minutes to review plays that should have taken no more than 1 minute to review and make a decision on. The pot finally boiled over when refs spent almost 10 minutes reviewing a play to add 2/10s of a second to the play and game clocks. Coaches with NO timeouts left were awarded a free, no-penalty-given, extra timeout to plot and plan and diagram the last 7.1 seconds of the game.

    Try to remember some of this garbage when you want goal-line review in the MLS. How would you like to spend the last 5 minutes of a game watching the ref and his crew over on the sidelines looking into a hood while players stand around on the field doing nothing, cramping up, stiffening up, and becoming less able to finish a game that is predicated on constant movement? I for one would not appreciate such a move, nor would I appreciate the price increase in my season tickets to accommodate the stated prices from the article.

    I agree with geojock in that I would like to see MUCH better referees recruited and paid better than the trash that calls some of the games now. Remember that when you want goal-line review, you are still only going to get what you pay for. If a ref and his sides can’t see the game well enough to call the game appropriately now, will they really be able to call the game any better with goal-line tech?

    Consider that if you implement goal-line tech, then we will want all-field tech in order to properly call all the fouls the field crew misses. How much will that cost and how much will it add to ticket prices? Remember, we have a sport that is still balanced on a very delicate cusp in the United States. Too much extra and we will watch while this league folds as have so many other leagues in this country.

    Whew, rant over, we will now return to normal programming: a weekend full of games.

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