The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Wedges everywhere

22 May 2017

This time of the year always gives too much downtime for navel-gazing. The play-offs are under way and on this occasion we have no real interest in them – but I'll watch any match to keep the season alive. This time last year we traipsed back to Blundell Park South, still high on the win of the previous week, to watch a hung-over team fail to raise themselves for one more match that didn't really count. Thursday's diary, meanwhile, summed up the lack of excitement in the first flight, where we are supposed to believe that we really do care who gets the final place in the top four in the "best league in the world".

So now we move into a football-free zone, scrabbling around for any snippets of news. To date it hasn't been good. The Town website page "And then came the celebrations" seems rather crass and certainly a reflection of happier times. Two players who have been loyal to the club and community have been cast aside when many fans believe they still have a lot to offer our team. They will be missed.

In old news, much has been written about the introduction of B teams into the Football League Trophy. Many of us fear that this will be the thin edge of a wedge and the slow death knell for smaller clubs in the lower leagues. Unfortunately, many football clubs are owned by people who have very little understanding of – or desire to reflect – the views of the majority of fans. Either the lure of breathing the same air as owners of top-tier clubs is just too great to resist or, as our non-chairman tells us, he had no option how to vote.

Trentside Diary begs to differ. John wanted to give players who aren't in the first team an opportunity to play "so cancelling the competition wasn't an acceptable option" – but does it really give players a chance when the likes of Luton and Portsmouth were fined for not playing enough first-team players?

The Mariners Trust is in a difficult position. It appears that the major shareholders have no intention of giving any real power to them, and it doesn't matter how many seats you have on the board if you can still be outvoted. Maybe all we are good for is cash? Fans may be the heart of the club, and would like to contribute more and have our views heard, but Fenty will decide how the club moves forward, or not, and how it votes on decisions affecting the whole future of English football.

Tweet from Lloyd Griffith confirming that the Mariners Trust was charged £1500 to stage a charity match at Blundell Park

There will be other decisions to make. It may have passed us by but earlier this month the FA approved the introduction of sin-bins from next season. The rationale is that they want to discourage players from arguing with the referee or to crowd around him to get a decision. The trial will only be enforced in the seventh tier and below – leagues below the Conference North and South. Isn't this another wedge? Players will be sin-binned for 10 minutes instead of being given a yellow card. It may see teams being reduced to eight or nine players for crowding the referee.

Now forgive my lack of knowledge, but has dissent in football really grown so much in the last few seasons that players are out of control? Isn't the problem more that refs don’t book players consistently for this? Any teacher in a challenging school would manage a boisterous class far more effectively than many referees we see. Warn them once, then use the tools you have to hand – a yellow card. If they did this consistently, most players would learn very quickly. I personally don't object to players commenting to refs – we're human and I would have something to say. It's only the ones who don't then move off, or the teams that crowd and badger the ref, that are a problem.

The sin-bin is not football. It would change the whole basis of how a match is managed. You lose a player for 10 minutes and do you rejig the whole formation? Change your tactics? The well-judged substitution is a thing of beauty and makes a good manager stand out. The whole dynamic would have to change to allow for players being out for ten minutes and the beautiful game would be changed forever. Let's hope the trial dies a death, but I'm not hopeful. I wouldn't put money against these changes being brought into the Football League in 2020-21, and I'm seething at the thought.