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Goal line technology - A price worth paying?

Goal line technology is back in the headlines after Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal during England’s exit from the World Cup being followed by an offer to Premier League clubs of free installation of the needed technology.  But is cost set to price out the rest of English football?

Back in March the International Football Association Board (IFAB) decided that goal line technology had no part in football’s future, blocking all future experiments.  At the time FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke offered little hope to goal-line technology providers, claiming that ‘technology should not enter the game. We should trust and keep football as a human game’.

However after Jorge Larrionda disallowed Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany in Sunday’s World Cup clash, football professionals and fans alike are calling for FIFA to rethink their decision.

The technology has long been around and has been embraced by other sports globally. One of the current providers is Hawk-Eye.  Developed in 1999, Hawk-Eye is camera based software that tracks the movement of the ball and can quickly determine whether it has crossed the line, providing the referee with a decision in less than 0.5 seconds.

But such sophisticated technology comes at a cost. It has been estimated that a football club can expect to pay between £125,000-£250,000 for the installation Hawk-Eye.

Paul Hawkins, creator of Hawk-Eye, recently suggested a solution for installing the technology, telling The Independent:  “We would install it free of charge in every Premier League ground if we could have the rights to sell the sponsorship.

"It's 100% accurate. Hawk-Eye has been independently tested by the Premier League and the International FA Board, and shown to work in all instances tested."

Sponsorship of Hawk Eye may prove commercially viable in the Premiership as it has done in major tennis tournaments with Rolex sponsoring the Hawk-Eye system at Wimbledon, but still leaves smaller club’s who sponsorship is not an option and the £250,000 price tag out of range with a huge stumbling block if they are to keep in line with football’s latest developments.

FIFA strongly believe that the rules for officiating football should be the same across all nations and all leagues. If smaller teams were not able to attract sponsorship deals and could therefore not afford to install the technology, FIFA’s fundamental belief would be lost and the already obvious gap between the top flight teams and the lower divisions could be further widened.

However there would be those that will argue that the technology is available and should be used to avoid decision costing key games and potentially money to clubs, even if it is only at top level competitions such as the Premier League and European competitions.

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