Premier League brings in GDS to banish ghost goals

Goal-line technology to make domestic debut on Sunday but Arsene Wenger is yet to be convinced

After a summer of DRS, get ready for GDS. But while the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was slightly sceptical at the Premier League’s official launch of the new Goal Decision System at the Emirates Stadium yesterday, officials are confident that there will be none of the controversies that have characterised the Ashes series.

Based on a system that has been in development by Hawk-Eye creator Paul Hawkins since 2006, GDS will make its official debut in Sunday’s FA Community Shield between Manchester United and Wigan at Wembley. Seven dedicated high-resolution cameras capable of operating at 320 frames per second will focus on each goalmouth. Referees receive a signal within less than a second via specially-designed watches and an earpiece to indicate whether the whole of the ball has crossed the line.

“What we are dealing with here is a matter of fact, whether the ball is over the line or not,” said Premier League referee Anthony Taylor, who helped to demonstrate the new system on the Emirates pitch with the Arsenal goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny. “The speed of the game makes it impossible to be in line for every decision. Hopefully it will make life easier for referees.”

The equipment costs £250,000 to  install at every top-flight ground and clubs will be asked to foot the bill themselves. Yet even though Premier chief executive Richard Scudamore and FA general secretary Alex Horne are convinced it is 100 per cent foolproof, Wenger – making an impromptu  appearance at the launch – raised the possibility of a potential grey area.

“My worry is where the ball goes over the line, then comes back, and then there is a foul on the defender. How does the referee, who blows for the foul, know it has not been after the ball went in? I suppose it’s the same as when the ball is out of play from a cross and then there’s a foul. But what matters is getting the decision right – anything is better than the ball going in and the goal not being given,” he said.

Referees will conduct their own trial of the system at Villa Park on Monday which they hope will iron out any  potential teething problems. GDS was first used during a friendly between England and Belgium last year having been initially rejected by Fifa. Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal for England against Germany at the 2010 World Cup prompted a change of attitude, although German firm GoalControl will supply the goal-line technology at next year’s tournament in Brazil.

Hawk-Eye has also been developing an instant-replay system to rule on  issues such as offside, which has just begun a two-year trial in the Dutch Eredivisie, but Scudamore does not  expect football’s first foray into the technological world to go much further. 

“This is a factual decision that we think lends itself to technology,” he said. “It becomes a more difficult discussion when you start to deal with subjectivity – and there is subjectivity about offside. I’m not so sure that is as cut as dried as GDS so I don’t want to look too far ahead. What is important is that we get these decisions right.”

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