Of all the recurring themes that have blighted West Bromwich Albion's chances of Premiership survival this season, defensive gaffes, unrewarded performances and missed goal-scoring chances to name but a few, it is a string of rejected penalty appeals that most exercises Bryan Robson.
Although all the signs suggest any change in the rules will come too late to save his team, the Albion manager yesterday repeated his call for video replays at every top-flight ground in a bid to eradicate wrongly-awarded and undetected spot-kicks.
Popular consensus, if not actual admissible evidence, maintains that Albion have been hard done by throughout the present campaign, this month in particular, with a string of unsuccessful penalty appeals in three of their last four games.
Robson's assessment is that a spate of five rejections have cost his side a potential three points in April alone and have therefore contributed to his side's lowly position, second-bottom of the league table.
With two claims turned down against Liverpool on April Fool's Day, two more in the derby meeting with Aston Villa eight days later and one more, seemingly cast-iron, at Arsenal last weekend, Robson is firm in his conviction that a referee's whistle or, in these instances, a lack of it could be a factor in determining Albion's fate at the end of the campaign.
He wants the sport's governing bodies, domestic and international, to bow to calls for the fourth official to be given access to a monitor and a radio link to the referee in order to review contentious decisions.
The jurisdiction would extend only to fouls in the penalty area and goal-line situations, the latter not being particularly relevant to Albion given their present profligacy, but would, Robson b elieves, prevent the unsightly protests that presently follow any controversial rulings.
"The decision-making has got to be so precise because there is so much at stake," he said. "For the fourth official to have a monitor at every stadium in the Premiership and an earpiece to the referee is not difficult whatsoever, it's very simple.
"I can't understand why we haven't introduced it for the ball crossing the goal line and penalties."
A system whereby an extra official reviews contentious try-scoring decisions is already in use in both codes of rugby while the National Football League in the United States allows coaches to challenge controversial rulings on the field, after which play is stopped while the referee reviews the video of the incident.
Robson maintains that the structure of the match would not be affected given that, in most instances, penalty or goal appeals lead to a break in play anyway.
"You can't do offsides and free-kicks outside the box because it becomes disruptive, but penalties are such an influence on a football match that there has got to be justice done," he said. "If the referee has not given a penalty and the game goes on, within two or three seconds the fourth official can say whether he's missed it.
"For three seconds, play stops and everyone wonders what is going to happen, but everyone knows there will be fair play because the decision will be right and proven on television."
And that, he says, would have a positive effect on discipline: "The players haven't got to argue so they won't get frustrated, booked and sent off. The fans don't get angry and then every time a decision goes against them, they won't go up in arms.
"The players who have had penalties are not going to argue with the referee because they will know it shows it on TV. In that respect, it will take away a lot of confrontation."
In the situation of an unsuccessful claim, Robson proposes a goal kick to restart play.
He is in little doubt that in the three matches mentioned, a penalty could have changed the course of the match and possibly the outcome of the season. "There is no danger that, against Aston Villa and Arsenal, with the penalty decisions we could have had it's worth three points," he said.
"I am sure the way we were playing against Villa and dominating them, had we scored from a penalty I don't think they would have got back into the game because my players were right up for it and they couldn't even get into our half at one period.
"Against Arsenal, there were 11 minutes to go in the game and that would have brought it to 2-2. That's a major influence on your season, because that would have put us above Birmingham by three points and sitting with a far better goal difference than Portsmouth.
"If we do go down, a part of it will be because of the referees. I said after the Villa game that there is no way things have evened themselves out over the course of this season. We are well down on penalty decisions."
Even though Albion were roundly beaten by Liverpool and a 2-0 reverse barely did justice to the Merseysiders' dominance of the first half, two calls that went against Albion could also affect their top-flight status. With only three points separating Portsmouth, Birmingham City and Albion, every strike has significance.
"It wouldn't have given us a point against Liverpool and that's why I didn't go on about it because they dominated us," he said.
"But it was a blatant hand-ball from [Mohammed] Sissoko. If we had scored that penalty, it was another goal towards our goal difference and we might go down on that basis. All these penalties could make a big difference."