Cardiff City v Chelsea: Neil Warnock’s ‘worst officials’ rant highlights importance of Premier League survival

Remove the dramatic and heated ramblings from Neil Warnock’s agitated response to more poor officiating on Sunday and the Cardiff City manager arguably made some valid points.

It was more the manner of his delivery, rather than the message contained within, that caused outrage.

However excessive his expression, Warnock actually had sound reasoning to be angry with referee Craig Pawson and his assistant Eddie Smart for inexplicably allowing Chelsea’s equaliser to stand in Cardiff’s 2-1 home defeat to Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Cesar Azpilicueta was at-least two yards offside when heading in Willian’s cross, almost apologetically putting the ball into the net as Cardiff were thrown even deeper into the relegation mire.

Additionally, the officials missed a potential red card for Antonio Rudiger when he dragged back Kenneth Zohore as the Danish international looked to burst clear, two penalty appeals for fouls on Sean Morrison and an off-the-ball incident involving David Luiz.  

The equaliser was a wretched mistake to make – every Cardiff player had their hand in the air expecting an offside decision to be forthcoming – and the Bluebirds were deflated and defeated even before Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s dramatic stoppage-time winner.

“This is the best league in the world with the worst officials,” fumed an irate Warnock to SKY Sports post-match.

“This is why we need VAR. It’s the most obvious offside that I’ve ever seen. We worked three weeks for this, and we get let down by decisions. No major decisions went for us.

“The officials don’t realise what’s at stake. If I was a Burnley or Southampton fan, I’d be absolutely loving it. It’s been one kick in the teeth after another this season.”

The result has put Warnock’s men in a perilous position. They are five points away from safety with seven games remaining and still face away trips to both Manchester clubs and they host Liverpool on Easter Sunday.

Relegations are disastrous and have pensive consequences. If the Bluebirds go down, it will be at a cost north of £100 million just in revenue, some staff will become redundant and the best players – assets in footballing terms – will be sold.

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One day, an owner of a football club – in Cardiff’s case it would be Vincent Tan – will sue an official over a bad decision, such is the importance of the pot of gold that comes with a place in the Premier League.

Cardiff’s status as an elite club matters immensely. Looking away from the football club, there will be a damaging consequence to the local businesses, fewer commercial opportunities taken up and less footfall in the city centre. 

There is a disparity between the Premier League and the rest of the English football system which makes survival a necessity.     

The decision last April from Premier League chief executives to reject VAR for this season could be a costly one for Cardiff, who didn’t have a vote as they were in the second-tier.

As Warnock begged for yesterday, the top flight has belatedly agreed to VAR’s implementation next season. It’s just a shame that Cardiff might not be there to reap the benefits.

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