Ray guns hit target for linesmen

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The Independent Football

The Football Association is set to try out new technology that could help assistant referees when they make offside decisions.

The Reference Point System is an aid to assistant referees when they have to decide if attackers have strayed beyond the last defender. It uses infra-red rays set 1.2 metres apart across the playing area. Officials can see these lines when they are adjacent to them and tests in the Netherlands and Norway have already demonstrated improved judgements by officials.

The technology will undergo a month's testing at Keele University in the coming weeks to assess how effective it proves in the faster English game compared to European football. After this, the system will be installed at Charlton Athletic's training ground, Sparrows Lane, where it will be used throughout the coming season and assessed during youth academy matches.

If the technology proves successful the FA has suggested that it could be introduced to help officials during the 2002-03 season, and John Baker, the head of refereeing for the FA, said: "It won't put more pressure on officials because they are the only ones that will be able to see it... The important thing is that this could help improve the performances."

In the Netherlands, more new technology is under fire, with Feyenoord objecting to Ajax's plans to install an artificial pitch after the coming season's winter break at their Amsterdam ArenA.