Dave Seddon's PNE press view

Television's all-seeing eye brought Preston's visit to Middlesbrough to the attention of the FA this week.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th April 2016, 8:00 pm
Greg Cunningham (centre) in action at Boro
Greg Cunningham (centre) in action at Boro

Boro forward Cristhian Stuani landed a three-match ban for an elbow on Lilywhites left-back Greg Cunningham.

It was retrospective action, the match officials not seeing the movement of the Uruguayan’s arm.

But his action was caught on camera – more than one of them in fact – thus the violent conduct charge and finding of guilt by an FA disciplinary panel.

In many other games, Stuani might have got away with his swing at Cunningham.

The fact that a full outside broadcast crew were at the Riverside Stadium though, did not go in his favour.

North End’s visit to Teesside was beamed live abroad and the highlights featured on Channel 5 that evening.

Had it not been, there would only have been a single television camera in situ rather than several scattered around the ground to catch the action from different angles.

Footage of the elbow was captured not from the main camera point but from others dotted around.

Watching the game from the press box, I had only one look at the incident in which Cunningham was elbowed.

Through a busy penalty box, I saw North End clear a corner and then Cunningham down on the floor, with him subsequently needing treatment.

Like the referee and his officials, my view of what happened was blocked.

What alerted me to possible foul play were tweets from several people who were watching streamed live coverage from abroad.

In seconds they were able to offer an accurate view of what had gone on and it was not exactly complimentary to Stuani!

It got me thinking about video technology and how simple its use would be during a game to help referees.

I am not talking every kick and push but an extra set of eyes for key incidents would not go amiss.

Folk watching last week’s game were, in no time, giving an accurate account of what Stunai had done to Cunningham.

A fourth or fifth official sat in front of a monitor with a couple of different angles, could do the same and alert the referee is necessary.

No need to stop the game, no need for it being on a big screen, it would just be some extra help.

Technology need not be something to be frightened of.

Indeed, just look at how successful goalline technology has been in the Premier League.

On that subject, it is about time that goalline technology is rolled out beyond the top flight – ideally to all four divisions but certainly the Championship as a minimum.

When clubs are battling to get into the Premier League, give them the same technology they would find should they get there.

The cost of extending it down the football ladder would be loose change from the increased pot of cash which is coming from the new television deal.

Last week’s defeat for North End at Middlesbrough is one they will be looking to bounce back from against MK Dons.

The visitors to Deepdale are of course the side who pipped PNE to automatic promotion 11 months ago.

It is testament to Simon Grayson’s men that they have performed the best, and considerably so, of last season’s promoted sides.

While North End find themselves inside the top 10 and having briefly flirted with the possibility of a run for the play-offs, MK Dons are in the bottom three and clinging on to their Championship place.

Bristol City, who went up as champions above MK and Preston, now look safe in 18th, having spent time in the relegation zone.

Without taking his eye off the ball in terms of the five remaining games this season, PNE boss Grayson will be planning for next term.

The bar has been raised to a decent standard in terms of the expectancy level for 2016/17.

Attempting to meet that standard will involve making additions to the squad during the summer.

There is a fair amount of work to potentially be done.

Five vacancies become available with the loan players ending their temporary stints.

Signing some or even all of them on permanent deals or for another loan, will take some work.

A keeper, a striker and probably another centre-half are positions which a lot of the focus will be on.

Cover is needed at left-back, on the right wing and maybe at right-back.