As an Adelaide fan this news provokes mixed emotions. We can feel validated in our grievances about the way the game panned out - the match did not take place on a level playing field, and therefore the final result was not necessarily the correct outcome. But, of course, it's too late now. The trophy has been presented, the horse has bolted. All we can do is vent our frustrations at the circumstances that allowed this to happen.
It's not the first time officials have destroyed a game with their errors - last season's grand final was marred by the referee Shields missing a penalty call for a Newcastle handball in the box, then sending off Central Coast keeper Danny Vukovic (that was a fair call, but his ridiculous suspension afterwards certainly wasn't).
This season Cristiano should have been penalised for an outrageous dive, Muscat should have seen red for stomps on Agostino and Mullen (at least - this is only the Adelaide games that I'm thinking about), Fabiano should have received a far more lenient sentence than a nine-game ban for a loogie that didn't connect, Tiatto should have been sent off for any number of heinously dangerous two-footed challenges, et cetera, et cetera.
My wish list for A-League officiating in the future is as follows:
- That the referees are employed full-time, and provided with high level training and development from the FFA;
- That referees are randomly chosen for league matches. It's ridiculous that Breeze has held court in the past 5 Adelaide-Melbourne games;
- That finals go to those referees whose form during the season deserves it. Srebre Delovski has been far and away the league's best this season, yet Breeze's seniority saw him get the grand final;
- That the FFA look to import referees from abroad if the standards of Australian refs is not up to scratch; and
- That the match review panel holds referees accountable for their actions, and has the cajones to overrule poor decisions. I don't want to see the panel keep hiding behind the old 'the referee saw the incident and took action, therefore it is out of our jurisdiction' argument. This week has seen the first departure from this line of thought - let's hope it continues.