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Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 17:19 UK

League says no to Watford replay

Assistant referee Nigel Bannister (left) and referee Stuart Atwell
Bannister (l) advised Stuart Atwell to award the 'goal'

The Football League has ruled out replaying Saturday's controversial game between Watford and Reading.

Assistant referee Nigel Bannister mistakenly awarded Reading's first goal in the 2-2 draw after the ball had gone wide of the post.

Royals boss Steve Coppell said he would not object to a replay but Watford said they were not seeking another game.

The League's chief operating officer Andy Williamson confirmed the decision to award the goal was final.

"The laws of the game give no discretion in these matters," said Williamson. "The referee's decision regarding whether a goal is scored or not is final and binding.

Royals captain Murty demands help for refs

"Given this explicit position, the League cannot intervene."

The 'goal' was registered as an own goal by Watford's John Eustace.

He thought his side had been given a goal-kick after a corner had hit him and gone out of play before being hooked back in by Reading's Noel Hunt.

Assistant referee Bannister advised referee Stuart Attwell to give the goal, to the horror of the Watford players.

The linesman has decided it's a goal. I've asked him about it and he said it was an optical illusion

Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd
Watford said they would accept any Football League verdict but highlighted their unhappiness with the standard of refereeing in the Championship.

"During the course of last season alone Watford were subject to six major decisions which saw the issuing of red card, 50% of which were subsequently rescinded," said the Watford statement.

"The club will abide by any Football League decision, but remains deeply disappointed at the standards of professional officiating it was exposed to in this fixture."

Everyone makes mistakes

Reading winger Stephen Hunt

Before the League made the decision Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann had told BBC Radio 5 Live that he believed replaying the game would set a dangerous precedent.

For their part Watford said they wanted to know if the yellow cards given to their players in the row following the decision to give the goal would stand.

The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB) released a statement after reviewing the incident.

"It is clear that the ball did not cross the goal-line between the goalposts," it said.

"According to the Laws of the Game, the decision of the referee, regarding facts connected with play are final and that includes whether a goal is scored or not.


"The referee cannot change that decision once the game has been restarted.

"Football is a human game played at a fast pace where mistakes are made by players and match officials alike.

"We regret this error of judgement and will now work with the officials concerned to determine how this occurred in an attempt to minimise such mistakes in the future."

Former Premier League referee Graham Poll said the decision was inexplicable and had sympathy for the Watford players and manager, Aidy Boothroyd, who was sent to the stands after remonstrating with the officials.

Poll told BBC Radio 5 Live: "This is the most bizarre situation I've ever seen in 40 years watching football and 27 years refereeing.

"I heard about it then watched the highlights thinking 'it can't be how it's described', but it is. He (Bannister) has got a clear view of it. It's completely inexplicable.

"The referee must be respected, obviously, but in such circumstances, as a player, how do you not lose your temper?"

After the match, Boothroyd told BBC London 94.9: "I went to see the referee and in fairness to him, although he wasn't brilliant today, you can't blame him if there's a guy in his ear telling him it's a goal.

"The linesman has decided it's a goal. I've asked him about it and he said it was an optical illusion.

"I saw the ball go out for a goal-kick and my centre-half has put his hand up and asked for the goal-kick and for some strange reason a goal has been given."

Boothroyd rejected the idea that the Reading players should have allowed Watford to score following the error.

"I don't expect players to take things into their own hands. It's not up to them," he added.

"If someone stops you in a car park and gives you a present you don't say no do you?"

Watford's players failed to get the decision changed after confronting the referee and linesman
Watford's players confront the officials after the controversial goal

Coppell also played down the emphasis on the players to take action.

"The responsibility is not with the opposition to right a wrong. It is up to the officials to get it as right as they can," said Coppell.

Reading winger Stephen Hunt was bemused by the decision but tried to alleviate the blame from referee Attwell.

Hunt said: "It was a screamer! No, it was probably the worst decision I have ever witnessed.

"We can't do anything about it. It's not our mistake, but what can you do? You can't say 'no ref, it wasn't in'.

"He seemed all right. He's a young referee. But after this he'll probably be sitting at home next week.

"I've had him before and he's been all right. It was just a bad day at the office. He talks, he respects you and you respect him.

"I can understand Watford's frustration, but everyone makes mistakes."

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see also
Watford 2-2 Reading
20 Sep 08 |  Championship
Pardew queries 'Respect' campaign
22 Sep 08 |  Charlton

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