The Michael Wood Column

Tuesday 29 July, 2003

The FA, bad discipline and sending in the United States Marine Corp

The Football Association have warned City that the club's disciplinary record has been poor and that the Bantams could be face a very unwelcome a severe financial penalty should it not improve. This makes me mad.

The club can ill afford a fine at this point in it's recovery from administration, indeed while a 35,000 fine would have been gobbled up by a Premiership club such a figure now represents the wage of a player for half a year. Such a punishment should be incentive enough for a club like City to avoid trouble and sharpen up the discipline at the club but there is no way that we will be able to do that with the current state of Refereeing dishing out cards in a seemingly ad hoc manner.

Which of these sending offs did we deserve?

Eight red cards, two or perhaps three of them that should have stood.

The point is this: The FA are judge and jury in this trial. The Referee's make the decisions, the FA oversee those decisions and then enforce punishments. The letter that The FA have sent City says the Bantams have "one of the poorest records in First Team matches of all the Clubs dealt with by the Football Association". Perhaps City should use the eight examples above and reply that our problems are more down to the fact that the Football Association have allowed a situation where the poorest Refereeing standards in living memory now exist in Division One and perhaps are evident at Valley Parade and at Bradford City games more often than other grounds, hence the bad discipline.

We have a few problems discipline-wise at Valley Parade, problems that will return with yellow card a game Paul Evans back in the side, but no more than other sides we have seen at Valley Parade this year. That is a side issue to problem when The FA start throwing their collective weight around.

To be threatened by The FA about discipline is like trying to argue a speeding ticket. City could take a video of every yellow and red card we have had last year to the discipline panel to prove The FA wrong but, as luck would have it, The FA runs the discipline panel. Judge and jury.

Nicky Law says there is a problem with the number of yellow cards we pick up for silly things, shirt tugging and the like, and he is right but for every dodgy red there are three or four dodgy yellows that one forgets about but they are no less travesties. Appealing red cards maybe pointless but appealing yellows is simply impossible even if the Referee public admits he made the wrong decision the card stands.

So if a Mike Dean decides it's pick on City day again next season the Bantams could be forced to let one of the squad go in the summer to pay a fine that we may not have earned and will have no appeal against. The word for that is totalitarian state by the way and if it existed in a country Shrub Bush would be sending in the Marines.

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