A change in the way possible ill discipline by footballers is being treated by the authorities might result in more, rather than fewer, instances being flagged up by the media, according to The Herald sportswriter, Michael Grant.
On the back-page column of his paper's sports supplement today, Grant was referring to headlines earlier in the week that had a Motherwell player seemingly being 'tried by TV' – specifically, BBC Scotland's Sportscene programme – for having made a gesture after scoring a goal.
The one-match ban issued by the Scottish Football Association was part of a recently-introduced fast tracking of alleged ill discipline cases.
The concern raised by the Motherwell manager, Stuart McCall, was that the gesture was inconsequential until it was highlighted by Sportscene.
Writes Grant: “In one sense, McCall was right: Highdon's 'offence' was inconsequential, a half-hearted gesture which few saw at the time and even fewer bothered about.”
But he points out: the SFA's fast-tracking system has created possible newsworthy incidents that might not have gone noticed in the past and it is for the media to report what is newsworthy.
He continues: “Sportscene and the papers would have failed had they not looked [at the player] and speculated that he, too, could be in trouble.”
He later added: “The media have no option but to continue showing and reporting anything which might lead to punishment, because the audience and the readers demand it.”