Monday, 17 August 2009

Sympathy for the Devil

On Saturday, Bristol City beat Crystal Palace 1-0 however the game has made the headlines nationally for a "goal" that wasn't given. A Palace shot hit the stanchion at the back of the net and shot straight back out again - this deceived the match officials who failed to award the goal. Ian Bone, on his blog, wondered if this was the hand of Bansky but, other, less forgiving views have taken hold, with the Palace chairman and several national newspapers being less than charitable and calling Bristol City cheats.

Bristol City and its fans now find themselves besieged from all sides. The press have come out in favour of the other side, providing plenty of column inches to anybody who wants to pour scorn on the Robins. Even the refereeing boss, Keith Hackett, who is supposed to take an even-handed approach and wait for the referee's report, pre-empted the normal process by apologising to the Palace manager. Bristol City meanwhile point out that their players were just doing their job and playing to the referee's whistle.
Meanwhile they ponder how different the reaction was a few years ago when the Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll pulled a ball back over the line and the referee failed to award the goal. Bristol City might point out that none of their players behaved in the way that Carroll did, yet there were no similar outcries at that time in the press for the match to be replayed - it seems there is one rule for the small guys like City and another for the giant corporations of the Premier League.

At this point, Bristol City fans must be wondering if there is anybody who can empathise with their situation.

They might not have to look far: there is another group who have done nothing wrong, have merely tried to get on with their jobs and abide by the rules but now find themselves in the position of being the small guys battling against a giant corporation whilst the press runs a massive media campaign against them and even those who they hoped would take a balanced view already seem to be pre-empting any decision by making supportive comments in the press.

Somehow however, I doubt if Steve Lansdown and Gary Johnson will be contacting BERATE to say "I know just how you feel!"

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