Keith Hackett column: With Man City buying Jack Grealish for £100m, I have to ask: ‘Has the game gone mad?’

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This weekend saw the start of a new season with the opening games of the English Football League, Championship. Leagues One and Two.

The FA Community Shield took place at Wembley and up and down the country the first qualifying round of the FA Challenge Cup.

Coaches, trains and other modes of transport carried supporters to the various games and we at last were able to savour the atmosphere of stadiums vibrating to the traditional songs and noise generated by large crowds.

Pie and peas were back on the menu with the usual rush to try to buy and consume one in the fifteen-minute interval at half time.

In that queue the performance of the referee will no doubt be the topic of conversation and the performance of their team.

Did the manager pick the right team, were the players that he left out better, did the club spend enough to bring in new players?

Even the design of the new shirt will no doubt have been brought up.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

Despite what their team did last season, supporters are full of optimism for the new season ahead.

I am sure the name of Jack Grealish will have formed part of that debate after Manchester City broke the transfer record with newspapers posting the sum of a mind-boggling £100 million. Has the game gone mad?

That is what we were saying in 1979 when Trevor Francis in his transfer from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest became the first one-million-pound player.

Match officials before they can start their season have to take an annual fitness test which they must pass in order to receive appointments to games.

The official fitness test for football referees consists of two tests. Test 1, Repeated Sprint Ability (RSA), measures the referee’s ability to perform repeated sprints over 40m.

Test 2, Interval Test, evaluates the referee’s capacity to perform a series of high-speed runs over 75m interspersed with 25m walking intervals.

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The time between the end of Test 1 and the start of Test 2 should be 6 to 8 minutes maximum.

Tests must be performed on an athletics track (or a natural/artificial football field if no track is available). Athletic spikes may NOT be worn during the tests.

Referees must pass the FIFA Fitness Test at least once a year. It is recommended that all fitness testing be conducted by a qualified physical instructor. A well-equipped ambulance must be present during the entire testing session.

FIFA-Approved Optional Tests In addition to the official test, the” Dynamic YO-YO Test” and the “YO-YO Intermittent Test Level 1” may be used as methods of assessing the aerobic fitness of referees with the recommended standards.

Match officials must have excellent football understanding and need to evolve with the game to stay effective and relevant. Their two main priorities are:

1. Protecting the safety of players
2. Consistent and uniform application of the Laws of the Game

FIFA Refereeing reinforces the protection of these core values and the betterment of the game through the development of match officials and referee coaches.

I am President of a grassroots football club, Penistone Church FC, where a team of volunteers ensure that our twenty-two teams can enjoy their participation in our great game.

Our first team were involved in The FA Challenge Cup travelling to Liverpool to take on Lower Breck a team that plays in the North West Counties League.

With two coaches full of players and spectators, Penistone came away with a draw, the replay taking place next Wednesday evening where I anticipate we will have a crowd of over 300 bringing in much needed income into the club.

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