Amongst the raft of new additions at the Stadium of Light ahead of the coming season, there is one that marks a historic moment in world football: the introduction of goalline technology, writes Dan Holland.
The Black Cats and every other Premier League club have seen the Hawk-Eye system installed at their ground over the summer, as football finally moves to rid itself of one unnecessary source of controversy and indecision.
It was announced in April that Hawk-Eye, which is also used in tennis and cricket, would provide goalline technology (GLT) for England’s top flight from the start of this season, and FIFA began testing at each Premier League ground in late July to approve each individual system.
Following the controversy at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa surrounding Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost’ goal against Germany, FIFA President Sepp Blatter finally bowed to widespread pressure from leagues and the public to soften the governing body’s stance on the issue.
After a long series of tests to determine which systems were deemed sufficiently accurate, both the Hawk-Eye and Goalref systems were granted FIFA licenses and permission to talk to leagues around the world.
The technology works by placing a series of cameras above and around the goal, with a signal sent to the referee’s watch within one second of the ball crossing the line.
Television viewers will also be provided with an instant replay and, if needed, a virtual representation of the situation to provide a clear view of the ball’s path.
Hawk-Eye was used for the first time at the Community Shield last Sunday, and will be used at every Premier League match this season, as well as in FA and League Cup games at stadiums that carry the system and matches at Wembley, marking the end of a long road to technology for the Premier League.
The league’s chief executive Richard Scudamore has praised the system and moved to dispell any fears over the introduction of technology after an Ashes series so far dominated by criticism of the review system.
“It’s going to be an absolute decision,” Scudamore said recently at a public demonstration of the system at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. “There’ll be no argument - it’ll be fact and that’s for the good of the game.
“The technical system will tell the referees and it’s very simple - it either will or won’t be over the line. If there was any doubt in my mind we wouldn’t be doing it at all there’s too much at stake.
“There is no goal-line incident in the 21-year history of the Premier League that this system wouldn’t have been able to identify. There were 31 incidents last year that could have benefited from this technology. It will work, it’s been fully tested.
“We’re in a very different situation [to cricket]. This is not a review system, there’s no person reviewing anything. I don’t see that this system will lead to anything like the same discussions.”
So while Sunderland fans may be entering the new season with a slight sense of uncertainty surrounding their new-look side, we can at least rest assured that one much maligned source of angst and anger has been cleared up - hopefully, once and for all.