County secretary - Get rid of black card

Thursday, 15 December 2016

THE black card has failed everyone affected by it, and should be abolished, Tyrone county secretary Dominic McCaughey has claimed.

He believes it has failed miserably to achieve its primary objective - to eradicate cynical fouling from Gaelic football.

“If it retains its place in the Official Guide then the application of the rule, and the misapplication of the rule, will continue to be the subject of discussion during and after games -rather than the game itself, or the quality of the performance, or the level of skills on display," he said in his annual report.

“The after-match focus by supporters, players, analysts and the media should always be on the game; it should not be on a rule."

McCaughey adds: "The black card has been a failure for the Association in all respects. It has failed our players, our match officials, our disciplinary administrators and it has failed to diminish or eliminate cynical behaviour in football," he says in his report to next week's annual convention.

“Perhaps the black card can be set aside now for all deliberate cynical behaviour fouls, in the same way that it has never been applied for the so-called 'sledging' infraction, nor for the infraction of remonstrating in an aggressive manner with a match official," he says in his report to annual convention.

“Players have suffered unnecessarily by both the application of the black card and by the misapplication of it. There is a clear and significant discrepancy in the severity of the penalty that applies to a player receiving a black card in added time at the end of a game compared with the player who receives it in the opening quarter of a match - this is unfair."

“Regrettably, there is no evidence to indicate that the black card has been successful in eliminating the deliberate fouls associated with cynical behaviour at both club and county levels.

“One example from the available evidence is quite contrary - that 37 black cards were issued to players in 21 inter-county games during a peak period of championship activity last summer (9th July - 1st August)."

McCaughey believes referees have been placed in an impossible situation, tasked with making a judgement based on interpretation of the rule.

“Match officials are almost always placed in an impossible situation in making a determination as to whether the appropriate threshold of deliberateness has been reached in order to merit the imposition of a black card.

“Often a judgement must be made at quite a distance from an incident that has taken place in a period of time, measured in seconds - it is unfair to ask the match officials to do so. There is also a major lack of consistency among referees in their perceptions of what infraction merits a black card."

Meanwhile, McCaughey has suggested that the club season could be set for an earlier start with the return of pre-season competitions.

Many clubs are organising challenge games during February and March, and McCaughey feels these could be replaced by official competitions.

“Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of challenge games being organised by clubs at both adult and youth levels," he says in his annual report.

“In addition to these, we are aware that games are also taking place without official approval.

“Of the 252 senior challenge games approved, 163 took place in February and March immediately in advance of the start of the All-County League."

McCaughey reasons that there is a clear demand for games in the early springtime which are not currently being provided in the form of an official competition.

“While there is an early season Ulster Club league in existence, this has fallen out of favour with most Clubs due in the main to the travel time required to meet opposition teams.

“Perhaps we could meet the needs of our clubs in a better manner by re-introducing 'pre-season' competitions for all divisions in the months of February and March, the knock-out stages of which could be finalised in the summer period when inter-county competition prevents the county panellists from being available to their clubs."


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