THE Football Review Committee's radical new yellow card proposal has raised the most eyebrows after yesterday's unveiling of the first part of their report in Croke Park.
Under the new rule -- which would require a rule change at Congress next year -- a yellow-carded player would be replaced by one of their team's designated substitutes and three such infractions for any team would then see no further replacement for players subsequently booked.
Several inter-county managers contacted by the Herald were reluctant to comment on the proposals, particularly as the most drastic are not due to come into being until the beginning of 2014.
However, two separately singled out the proposed new system of yellow cards as the most divisive of the lot, citing extra pressure on referees and the one-strike-and-you're-out nature of the rule as having the potential to cause the most controversy.
"Part of what I've read of the report is designed, understandably, to take pressure off referees," insisted one of the managers, who requested not to be named. "And then you have this yellow card ruling which would not allow for a single mistake, from either player or referee, which could see the player effectively sent off from the biggest match of their year. It doesn't make sense and it isn't fair to players or referees."
The 10th of 16 listed proposals, states:
•Players issued with a yellow card should be subject to mandatory substitution for the remainder of the game.
•After a team has been given three yellow cards, any further yellow card will mean the player going off with no substitution.
•In inter-county competitions a cumulative total of three yellow cards for an individual player in any one grade in the same year should lead to a two-match suspension.
•To be fair to all concerned, the number of substitutes permitted should be increased from the present five to six, to coincide with the introduction of this proposed change.
Eugene McGee, who chaired the committee and unveiled the report in Croke Park yesterday, said that the extensive research carried out by the Football Review Committee had ascertained that the average number of bookings per match was 6.6.
"We would be very disappointed if this didn't reduce that figure to two or three," he insisted. "A lot of frees are accidental and it will take a little while for people to get used to the difference between accidental and deliberate. We can't make perfect referees ... but it's a start."
There will, under the new rules if adopted, be a clear differentiation between a 'deliberate' and 'accidental' foul, with no yellow card awarded for the latter as part of the move to eradicate cynicism from the game -- the chief detractor of Gaelic football, according to the in-depth research carried out by McGee's group.
There is also a resurrection of the 'mark' for any player who catches the ball cleanly from a kick-out outside their own '45', a rule which has been tried in the past without major success or fanfare and one which the majority of inter-county players said they did not want in a recent survey by the Gaelic Player Association,
Other than the relatively radical yellow card reinvention, the main proposals from the FRC are:
•A relaxation of the pick-up rule so that a player can lift the ball clean off the ground, provided they are in "an upright position, with at least one foot on the ground."
•The definition of the tackle.
•A new advantage law.
•Time-keeping to be taken out of referees' hands for all senior inter-county championship matches with the use of a "public time clock", a measure which will, if passed, be introduced in 2013.
•The duration of adult club games to be changed from 60 to 70 minutes.
•The committee has decided NOT to recommend any of the following, despite close consideration:
Limiting the use of the hand pass; additional reward for long-range points; a 'tap and go' option for free-takers; the introduction of 13-a-side games.
FOOTBALL REVIEW COMMITTEE:
Eugene McGee (chair), Killian Burns, Declan Darcy, Paul Earley, Tim Healy, Ciarán McBride, John Tobin, Tony Scullion, Kevin Griffin (secretary).