After the amazing scenes at Upton Park yesterday, in which Frank Lampard was made to take a penalty three times by referee Mike Dean because of encroachment into the penalty area, and after goalkeepers have been saving more and more spot-kicks in recent weeks, the issue of penalties is hot on the footballing agenda.
Are keepers coming off their line too early? Should officials do more to spot players going in the area before a penalty has been taken?
Much confusion still surrounds the topic. Most football fans are unsure about the rules regarding one of football’s most key issues.
What happens if a penalty is scored, but players from the opposing team encroach into the box before it is kicked? Does the goal stand because the players weren’t from the kicker's team? Not many know the answer to questions like this.
If referees were consistent with their decisions on penalty re-takes, then supporters would understand much better.
On Match of the Day Two on Sunday night, clips of previous instances of encroachment into the box were shown in which the referee allowed the goal to stand. Where’s the consistency between Mike Dean’s decision and that? Referees need to work together to make sure the same decisions are made every week.
If every referee penalises encroachment into the box from now on, every football fan will be happy. Such a scenario is unlikely though.
Assistant referees must also get tougher on goalkeepers who stray from their line before the kick is taken. They stand only yards away from the keeper when the penalty is taken, so it is difficult to understand how they so often fail to see the keeper move away from his goal.
Once again, this is an issue that requires amending. The rules are there for a reason. The fans need to understand.