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Austin's challenge shows the need for the ‘orange’ card

There's a huge difference between getting a red and yellow card. So why not implement an ‘orange’ card?

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

It doesn't matter the sport, we all love to complain about referees. Be it in football or basketball, hockey or American football, Australian rules football or baseball, it's a common refrain from fans after their team lose.

But in football, it makes sense.

Scoring is rare. Referee's decisions are big; from penalties to red cards and everything in between, we demand so much out of the man in the middle while he's, well, human.

So let's take Charlie Austin's challenge against Villa on Tuesday. He goes in hard, leads with the studs, but it's maybe a challenge that doesn't warrant a sending off in such a crucial game.

But at the same point in time, that challenge was a lot worse than any other yellow card given out during Tuesday's 3-3 draw between QPR and Aston Villa.

You look around at Villa's red cards this year and one — above all else — stands out as particularly egregious; Gabby Agbonlahor's against Manchester United in December.

He goes in for a 50/50 ball and while he doesn't necessarily win it, he also doesn't commit anything that is a red-card offence.

But our referees feel the pressure to get it right — this is the biggest decision of the game — and they rush to judgement.

So we have two situations. Some saw red against Austin, some yellow. Some saw red against Agbonlahor, some yellow.

These two outcomes are drastically different. One puts his team at a huge disadvantage and removes the player from the game. The other? It doesn't do much.

Why not orange?

As an American, I'm used to the idea of the "sin bin." We have it in hockey. Do something bad and you sit for a few minutes where your team's a player down. Seems fair, right?

Let's get that in football.

Here's how I'd imagine it'd work:

The referee sees something come about. It's maybe a yellow, it's maybe a red. He doesn't want to drastically influence the match by sending the offending player off — it's not that egregious of a challenge — but he also feels the player should be punished in some real, tangible way.

So he shows him an orange. The player goes and sits down in the dugout for 15 minutes. After that period of time, he's waved back onto the pitch and play continues.

Let's go back to Austin's challenge from the other day to show how this would work.

Instead of everything carrying on 11 v 11, QPR are now down to 10 men for a 15-minute span. It's a great opportunity for Villa — they'll have 15 minutes where Rangers are without their man up top.

So what happens?

Villa push up the pitch, looking desperately to score while they have an advantage. They know they have to make it count. But it leaves them vulnerable to the counterattack; maybe QPR are able to push back up the pitch.

The entertainment value? High. And it presents a situation where, yeah, you actually get punished for doing stupid, but not extremely stupid things as a player.

Take some of the pressure off referees and see what happens. Maybe, just maybe, we'll get a better brand of football.