Bill Shankly: Bad refereeing may have cost us the title

May 2, 1972
An angry Bill Shankly last night criticised two refereeing decisions which may have cost Liverpool the League championship. As he travelled back from Derby with his team’s hopes reduced to slender proportions, the Liverpool manager attacked a “goal” disallowed by referee Roger Kirkpatrick in the home game with Leeds on January 1 and the refusal of a penalty last night by South Wales referee Clive Thomas.

Said Mr. Shankly: “Those decisions were both against teams who are fighting for the title. They could cost us the championship.

“In the game against Leeds, Jack Whitham had the ball in the net in the first half before Leeds scored. I thought it was a good goal and if it had counted we would have gone on to win.

“Last night’s incident was a penalty kick if ever there was one. Kevin Keegan was in a position from which he might have scored when the goalkeeper pulled him down.

“There were no goals at the time and a penalty kick to us then would have probably meant us winning.

“If we had those four points we’d be champions now.”

But Mr. Shankly is still optimistic that Liverpool can win the title. To do so, Liverpool must win at Arsenal next Monday while Leeds must lose their last match at Wolves on the same night.

“I said before tonight’s game that we could still win the League even if we were beaten at Derby – and we still can,” said Mr. Shankly.

“Wolves are capable of beating anybody and they could upset Leeds. Yes, we are still very much concerned in the title race.”

Liverpool, however, must get at least a point from Highbury to be sure of going back into Europe. The way the trophies have gone this year means that the team which finishes fourth in the table is not certain of going into Europe.

Only if Leeds win the Cup and fail to win the League will the fourth placed side get into Europe.

Stoke (League Cup winners) and Spurs or Wolves (EUFA Cup winners) will go into next season’s EUFA Cup leaving just two other vacancies for English clubs – for the second and third placed teams.

After last night’s matches Liverpool are fourth, a point behind Manchester City and Leeds, and two points behind Derby.

They have a better goal average than City and Derby and both those teams have finished their programmes. Liverpool have only one match left, at Arsenal.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: May 2, 1972)

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