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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Ask the Extra – The February Edition

Written by on February 4, 2011 | 14 Comments »
Posted in Ask the Extra

Time to turn to the e-mail bag once again and answer some questions.

Q from Erik in Fountain Valley, CA

We are roughly half way through the EPL season and NONE of the 3 newly promoted teams are in The Drop Zone and really only West Brom is close. When, if ever, have the 3 newly promoted teams ALL stayed up the following season and 3 teams in the EPL the previous season gone down?

I say that because it looks like that could happen this season and if it does what effect, if any, will that have on newly promoted teams in following season?

Response – Since you sent me the question the outlook has darkened somewhat for Blackpool as they slipped down the template. We have to go back to the 2001/02 season to find three promoted teams all survive their first season in the Premier League.

But Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton have all done significantly better than just surviving one season – they have maintained their Premier League positions since gaining promotion close to a decade ago.

Some pundits have suggested that there are lessons for newly promoted clubs in that West Brom, Newcastle and Blackpool has shown no fear this season and all have pulled of surprise results against some much bigger clubs.

Given that all three clubs made fantastic starts maybe the lesson is to strike when the iron is hot at the start of the season before the adrenalin rush wears off and other clubs start taking you more seriously.

Q from Derek

I have a question to do with promotion/relegation in the states. I’m not one of the people screaming for it right now, but I definitely think that is the direction we should head in the states.

My question is, do you think trying out this process between the lower divisions of US soccer first would be a good idea? With the fragility of the lower divisions it is extremely hard to get investors willing to spend their money.

I think the ability to start a club that could move from the third division to the second could spark some more investment and interest, and in the end (if successful) put pressure on MLS to give this issue more consideration.

Also it might help stabilize the lower division. I can’t see too many negatives with trying this in the lower divisions. The worst that can happen is a bunch of teams fold up shop, which if we are being honest, is exactly what has been going on for several years in the lower divisions anyway.

What do you think?

Response -I think there is far too much time spent on this topic. The promotion/relegation system was a product of its time and worked well in countries that adopted the game early.

But much as changed in the last 100 years or so and it is not practical to late adopters to conform to what happens elsewhere just because it has always been that way.

To paraphrase Francisco Marcos – if today you were starting a league from scratch in the likes of England do you really think they would have promotion and relegation.

If I was investing in a club the prospect of promotion to a higher division would not be a big factor in my decision. Knowing the level you are buying into helps in formulating your business plan and if you find your team going up or going down it undermines it.

What brings stability to any league is a sustainable business model and that doesn’t mean that one sizes fits all.

The only way you will ever have a chance of a promotion/relegation system in MLS is splitting into a First and Second Division with no relegation from the Second. Even then the chance is minuscule.

Q from Matthew –

I’m a 36 yo. American soccer lover, and have been playing since the early 1981 when an official city league started. I’ve played in one form or another since then and, like most old school soccer loving kids, was ruthlessly made fun of growing up, and told to move to San Francisco.

I didn’t really get into watching the English game until the late 90’s because of lack of access to games, just to give you some back ground. That said, I love the game like no other!

Even with 30+ years of experience I STILL do not understand the PURPOSE of the off sides rule. I’m completely boggled there is a rule that is so amazingly subjective and has such a monumental affect on the game.

We’ve all seen teams who should have lost, yet win as a result of a major error in an offsides call. I know my question may be elementary to you and your associates, but please be merciful and explain it to me.

I hate when I’m asked about it. I won’t even get into video replay, so will you please, please answer it for me! I beg you! What purpose does it serve?

PS, Why is there no MLS team in St Louis, the birthplace of soccer in America. Seems sacrilegious.

Response – Simply put it stops attacking players from placing themselves in the penalty box and having long balls feed into them all game – think of a Sam Allardyce approach but on steroids.

Without the rule there would be no short passing or anything else that is beautiful about the game. It would be like Aussie Rules Football but all the action would be in the respective penalty areas.

To compensate for the attackers the defenders would automatically drop deeper and each penalty box would be like a tube station at rush hour.
If you don’t believe me try this little experiment. At your next practise split the teams and tell them the losers buy the first two rounds post-practise.

Also tell them that there is no offside rule in effect and it is not a coaching drill – it is just about winning. Stand back and see what happens – it may take a couple of minutes but it will happen.

The game will become a case of pumping the ball the length of the field and constant route  football.

Regarding your comment about the subjective nature of the offside rule. Yes part of it is but most of it is very objective. Rules of every team sport carry a level of subjectivity and soccer is no different.

As for St Louis not having a MLS team – that one is better put to Don Garber.

Q from Craig

I was reading about David Moyes’ claiming Cesc Fabregas used offensive language directed towards the referee at halftime during the Arsenal v. Everton game, and I’m wondering what rights, authority, responsibility, etc., a referee has regarding off-field events that don’t take place during actual game play.

If Fabregas had indeed said something so offensive that it would have got him sent off during play, could the ref have booked him in the tunnel or dressing rooms for similar behavior?

Response – Absolutely the referee could. The wording of the referee’s authority is – “The referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions from the moment he enters the field of play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle.”

That includes the possibility of sending off a player before the opening whistle is blown and the player doesn’t even have to be in the starting eleven. A named substitute can receive a caution or red card.

However, the Laws of the Game also state that “A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only by one of the named substitutes.”

Referees authority extends to officials. We often refer to officials  having been shown a red card but that is not absolutely accurate – they are actually expelled from the area surrounding the field of play and reported.

The Laws also proscribe the means for the official to report players for incidents post games that can bring further disciplinary action. Even though the game may be over the official can report post-match incidents on the match report and may lead to a suspension.

In terms of the Fabregas incident is would be captured under the following – “A player who commits a cautionable or sending-off offence, either on or off the field of play, whether directed towards an opponent, a team-mate, the referee, an assistant referee or any other person, is disciplined according to the nature of the offence committed.”

This means that referee Lee Mason could have sent Cesc Fabregas off for comments made in the tunnel.

Q from Wilton

I have missed your views as to whom you think will win the Premiership and the European Cup.

Grateful therefore if you could let me know how you view these outcomes.

Response – My pick back in August to win the Premier League this season was Manchester United with Arsenal as runners up and I believe Chelsea third. If it comes out in that order I will amazed and stunned. I am a terrible predictor of such things – I over analyze according to Jeremy.

I don’t remember being asked to pick a Champions League winner. It would be Barcelona but from here it is a knock out competition and that makes it much more difficult to pick.  An outsider to make the last four – maybe Valencia.

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14 responses to “Ask the Extra – The February Edition”

  1. Boris says:

    “Chelsea’s annual wage bill has soared to £172.5 million” says Soccernet. Good god. They can’t maintain this forever….

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eoin O'Callaghan, bobbysoccerrep. bobbysoccerrep said: A Friday edition of "Ask the Extra" – a Newcastle piece will go up later 2day + on the Fox Soccer Report 2night […]

  3. That is where it was around 2008. It came down a bit but it sounds as if it has taken off again.

  4. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    I like your UCL darkhouse pick of Valencia. They could prove to be a very difficult ‘out’ for anyone and having to face Schalke in the R16 is certainly something I’m sure they welcome (especially considering the alternatives prior to the draw).

    I have a related follow up Q for you. Don’t managers have to stay in their technical areas during the match? Remember the Real Madrid v Villarreal game recently? Jose left his technical area twice after his team scored two separate goals. He also went in front of the opposition’s bench and provoked them. Should Jose not have been told to leave the playing area (to go to the stands or down the tunnel) by the referee, written up in the match report, and received disciplinary action after the fact (one match ban and/or fine)?

  5. yes managers are required to stay in their technical area but there is no automatic punishment if they stray. All up to the officials.


    would you not agree that if the frenchman had keep his mouth shut the Cesc deal would have blown over.i know you have a bias but you can’t say David Moyes is someone that craves the limelight.good luck with Newcastle this weekend should not be a struggle.

  7. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    Don’t agree. Le Boss is just standing up for his player. He’s showing some spine. Moyes is just stirring the pot and should not be telling tales out of school. This whole Cesc business in the media just goes to show everyone how there is an anti Arsenal media bias in England. I remember a quote from Vieira a number of years ago directed to the media along the lines of, “Why do you (the English media) always pick on me? Is it because I’m black or because I’m French?” A skeptic would say it is because of both.

  8. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    Can’t the Spanish FA view the tape re: Jose and apply disciplinary measures after the fact? The English FA do it for players regarding cards.

  9. Bryan says:

    Bobby – Do you know what the rule is for changing kits when there’s a clash?
    Can’t believe Man city were allowed to wear their normal kit at Birmingham in midweek ,Coventry changed just days earlier at Brum ,I had trouble telling them apart at times.
    Used to be you couldn’t wear the same colour shorts,or even socks ,without the away team having to change.

  10. TVA – If they felt it was important enough and an incident had happened that the officials did not see. That wasn’t the case.

    The FA only does it in certain circumstances. For example they cannot change a card from a yellow to a red.

  11. Bryan

    Laws of the Game state
    • The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and also the referee and the assistant referees
    • Each goalkeeper must wear colours that distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees

    Very strange to have two teams wearing blue even if one was sky blue. Another case of referees discretion perhaps.

  12. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    WOW i get no cap GFYR the Forest boys have taken 22 points out of their last 8 games not even said a small a until your nesting doll gets his season turned around.we will have to agree to disagree on the about a prediction against the Geordies.

  13. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    NUFC 0 AFC 3

    Up the Arse!

  14. Sarah S says:

    hello everyone!, I’m new on here and glad to be a part of the group

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