Goal line tech: We play referee with the Hawk-Eye system ahead of 2013/14 Premier League debut
The Premier League 2013/14 will be unlike any other before it. And that's not down to just this year's transfers: the season will kick off with fully operational Hawk-Eye goal line technology - recently re-dubbed "goal decision technology" - and we got to play referee and preview the system in action at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.
The technology, which utilises 14 high-frame-rate cameras - seven focused on each goal - is capable of identifying the ball and its markings. Hawk-Eye creator Paul Hawkins was on hand to talk through the technology and how individual balls' markings will be detectable by the system. This season that means the Barclaycard and Nike design will be the clear identifier. In the future, or at non-Premiership matches, the system can be adapted.
The tech has been installed at all 20 Premier League club grounds - plus Wembley, making 21 kitted-out stadiums - at an alleged cost of £250,000 for each, covered by each home club.
The cameras are mounted up among the floodlights and each faces the goal from a different point of view to ensure the ball cannot be obscured from sight at any moment. There is no detection device in the ball itself, instead the cameras can determine to an predicted accuracy of just 3mm whether the ball has crossed over the line.
As part of the package all four match referees will wear a new watch to support the technology. When that ball crosses the line the watch will vibrate, beep and send a visual "GOAL" alert to the watch face in less than a second. And indeed it does: referee Anthony Taylor kicked the ball over the line and the watch on our wrist buzzed away.
In addition the referees will receive a confirmatory audio signal via their earpieces, but it's not yet clear what this will be. Taylor said they wouldn't know until a briefing on 12 August which is set to iron out all the details of the new technology. We've still got our hopes that it'll scream "Gooooaaaallll" in an Andres Cantor fashion.
But the technology isn't just for the referees - and this is where things get interesting. The system is set up to automatically send a signal to stadium display screens as well as to broadcasters within 20 seconds, showing whether the ball crossed the line in a fancy graphic. Snazzy stuff.
But the referee's decision still remains final. The rules of football haven't changed. All the technology does is confirm whether or not the ball has crossed the line - if a goal is disallowed because of a foul, offside player or any other interference that leads to a goal being disallowed then that will still be the case. It's about referees using it as a tool, but still using their heads to make the right decision.
Goal decision technology is ready to roll from the very first Premiership match on 17 August. Here's hoping it will avoid any disastrous decisions being made in the future.