by Chris Tobin

So the Premier League have decided that no handshakes will take place at the start of the Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea game and the below statement holds their reasoning;

“However, after discussions with both Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers about the potential and specific legal context in relation to John Terry and Anton Ferdinand the decision has been taken to suspend the handshake convention for Sunday’s match.”

To try and understand this stance from The Premier League we perhaps have to look at an incident earlier in this current season – when Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra stood in line in a game of poker face whilst the world’s media looked on aghast when no actual shake would take place. Some would say a lesson learnt, with others like Sir Alex suggesting only potential rioting can come from these situations.

Liverpool supporters have become very vocal over what they see as inconsistency toward the Premier League’s change of heart from what is their own pre-match convention. The charge aimed at the authorities by reds comes in the form of a conspiracy against their own club and Mr Suarez. But does this theory actually have any legs?

I would assume The Premier League would be reticent to allow a situation where Ferdinand may take it upon himself to accept John Terry’s hand and give the lovable rogue a grappling clinch of a bear hug, which at a later date, perhaps in a courtroom, would be used as evidence against Mr Ferdinand prompting a jury of none footballing peers to assume that indeed he must be lying about JT using racist language toward him – why else would he take part in the said ritual of a handshake.

All quite plausible and, taken on its own merits, understandable. However, if during the very same game Mr Ferdinand or his black colleagues decide to take it upon themselves to make individual stance against Mr Terry in the form of aggression toward him, would this be evidence against his character, how he was held in contempt by such players. In the defence of Mr Terry perhaps he will come into contact with his accuser during the 90 minutes and exchange pleasantries, which once again could be submitted in the courtroom.

I would find it incredible if the Premier League had not been advised by legal representative of both protagonists, and the law of the land before coming to this decision.

Surely if this stance is purely taken on the grounds that it may legally affect the upcoming court case against Mr Terry then why not stop both the individuals from taking their positions in the game; surely the potential to muddy waters is far greater during the match, is it not?

The Suarez/Evra encounter would obviously be at the forefront of any further handshake situation and retrospectively would be part of the decision making – but why not come out and also say “We have learnt from past experience and this has been taken into account and is why we assume this position”. Football fans are astute enough to understand, it is when they are left in the dark that they start believing conspiracy theories.

Luis Suarez told the club he would shake Patrice Evra’s hand and from United’s side they were happy for this to happen, and unfortunately for the Premier League they believed both players and clubs. In the heat and cauldron of Old Trafford things would not go as planned, with both parties guilty of the none facilitation of the handshake. The Premier League cannot allow this to happen in the Terry and Ferdinand case – with avoidance being the new convention rule.

The question needs asking regarding scrapping the whole handshaking convention, it leaves the game open to hijack from anyone with an agenda, and those intent on using this forum for their self-promotion.

Martin Samuel [Mail] would suggest that only is this country would a rapist get a round of applause – he has obviously never been to America where they have many appearing in NFL, NBA and NLB leagues every week.

Let us assume that convicted rapist Ched Evans one day graces the Premier League with his footballing talent on an afternoon when a young lady happens to be amongst the officials [it will happen trust me] and that official is so appalled with his former nocturnal activities, she may refuse to shake that convicted sex pests hand, and rightly so.

You may feel this is an extreme example, but we have those convicted of such heinous crimes walking amongst football fields every Saturday. What is it going to take for football to hand over the choice of finger greeting to the players themselves, hopefully at the end of the game- like we all used to in junior school, apart from that time in Under 9s when that boy was chatting about my mum all game – early bath.

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