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Bitter Cherries? Bournemouth Plot Legal Action Against Hawk-Eye That Could Change Football Forever

Football Goal LineLet’s face it: by now, pretty much every major club on the planet has been burned by a disallowed goal or a red card confirmed by Hawk-Eye or VAR.

But some are more costly than others, and especially when there has been a major flaw in the technology – as was the case in Sheffield United’s ‘ghost goal’ against Aston Villa in the first game back after the coronavirus disruption.

The Villa keeper Orjan Nyland appeared to carry a free kick from the Blades’ John Lundstram over the goal-line, however the incident was not picked up by Hawk-Eye’s technology – all of their seven cameras were blocked by players crowded in the six-yard box.

Consequently, referee Michael Oliver could now allow the goal – and Villa were able to clinch a crucial point in their battle against relegation.

And then, on a manic final day of the campaign, the Villains were able to secure their top-flight status for another year – consigning Bournemouth to the drop by a solitary point.

Sky Sports is reporting that the Cherries’ board are now planning legal action against Hawk-Eye, which if they claim for ‘loss of earnings’ could amount to more than £100 million if successful – the loss Bournemouth are facing for relegation to the second tier.

So far, there are no updates on whether the south coast club plans to sue their own players for losing 22 games this season or not….

Rules Are Rules

Football Linesman

When video technology was introduced formally into football around the world, the rules of the beautiful game were updated accordingly by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

The IFAB altered a section of their rulebook under the heading of ‘Match Validity’, reflecting the new tech with an amendment that reads that ‘a match is not invalidated because of malfunction of the VAR technology or goal-line technology.’ In this case, ‘malfunction’ is defined as the system failing to work or in the wrong decision being made.

And it is that wording that will prevent Bournemouth from successfully challenging the result of the Villa vs Sheffield United game according to Simon Leaf, the head of sport at law firm Mishcon de Reya. He told The Independent:

“While Bournemouth will no doubt be ruing its relegation, the club will find it enormously difficult to bring a successful legal challenge based on the failure by Hawk-Eye.

“One of the main problems for Bournemouth is that the Premier League rules make it perfectly clear that matches are to ‘proceed even if goal-line technology is unavailable for part or all of’ the match and that the ‘referee’s decision as to whether a goal has been scored shall be final’.

“The rules that Bournemouth have signed up to make it clear that clubs need to accept that the system may not work and that in the case of match decisions the buck stops with the referee.”

While the result itself is unlikely to be changed, Bournemouth might be more successful in suing or damages. In 2007, Sheffield United themselves successfully sued West Ham for £20 million following their own relegation from the Premier League, after it emerged that Carlos Tevez – who scored the winning goal – and Javier Mascherano were ineligible to play for the Hammers due to rules regarding third party ownership.