LAST season a local football club asked my view on an incident during a recent match and their referee’s comment on what happened.

At a throw-in, one of their players threw the ball back to their goalkeeper.

The shot-stopper realised if he handled the ball it would result in an indirect free-kick, so he tried to kick it upfield.

Unfortunately, he sliced his kick and the ball went straight up in the air.

The goalkeeper was undecided whether he could then handle the ball, and an opposing forward dashed in to score.

At half-time the referee said to the team manager, ‘your goalkeeper could have caught that ball’.

The manager wanted my opinion on whether the referee was right.

My reply was he was incorrect, as the law quite clearly said ‘an indirect free-kick is awarded if a goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands after the ball has been deliberately kicked to him by a teammate or receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate.’

This didn’t satisfy the club, so I said I would take it to David Elleray, former Premier League referee, now Technical Director of the International FA Board, which is responsible for football’s laws, and luckily my contact with the IFAB.

It’s a coincidence, he said, that you should ask that question now.

As the law stands, you are correct.

We have, however, just put forward a proposal to be considered at the annual law meeting in March, that we change this, if the goalkeeper makes a mess of his kick in the way you describe.

Sure enough, one of the changes to the Laws this season includes an addition to this law.

It still says the goalkeeper may not handles a ball deliberately kicked or thrown to him by a teammate, but now also adds ‘unless the goalkeeper has clearly kicked or attempted to kick the ball to release it into play’.

Although we might say the referee at that match was wrong, we could also say, he was ahead of his time.