Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTime for a change? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Time for a change? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Time for a change?

Football is a fantastic game to watch and play at all levels.

It brings untold joy, sadness, passion and frustration and even anger to every die hard fan, supporter and player throughout the world, from the guy playing for The Dog and Duck Pub on a Sunday morning to the Manchester United season ticket holder who follows his team to every home and away match whether it is in England or across Europe.

Isn’t it time then that the beautiful game was brought up to the 21st century and made both fairer for both teams, and easier for referees and officials?

I believe that with a few changes to our game, particularly at the highest level (Premiership, international, European), we could improve the experience or players and fans alike.

If I had a magic wand, these are the changes I would make as soon as possible, let’s see if you agree with me?

1.    MATCH DURATION: This should not be left in the hands of the match referee and 4th official. I’ve lost count of the number of games I have watched only to be left puzzled when 5 minutes additional time is awarded and there hasn’t been any injuries or prolonged stoppages. I would bring in a system similar to ice hockey and American football where each club has an electronic countdown timer displayed which stops each time the referee blows for a stoppage in play and restarts when the ref blows again. Once the timer has reached zero, the play would continue until the ball is dead at which time the referee would blow to signal the end of the game. This would be the fairest and most accurate way of ensuring the game is played for the correct duration. 

2.    RESPECT: Isn’t it about time we learnt a little from our rugby friends? A little more respect for the referee is a much needed change and one of the ways we can do this is to introduce a rule where only the captain of each team is allowed to speak to the ref. Any infringement of this rule is liable to a yellow card and any foul or abusive language or harassment of the referee should be a red card offence. I’m sure that after the first 2 weeks of waves of red cards, players and managers would soon learn the lesson and the cost of ignoring this rule.

3.    VIDEO TECHNOLOGY: A tricky one…. I believe there is a place for this but it needs to be administered very carefully. The problem here is that football is a flowing game and it is very difficult, if not impossible to implement this technology without interrupting the flow and possibly affecting the result of matches. However I believe that if there was a ruling that video technology can be used only when the ball has become dead and only in instances where the referees initial decision is likely to have a major affect on the result of the game and only when one of the captains has requested a replay, then we have to bring it in. I would further rule that each team has only one opportunity per half to request a video replay. For example let’s take last season’s Man Utd. V Chelsea match at Old Trafford where Drogba was at least 2 yards off side when he received the ball and subsequently scored, costing United the title. Had Fergie’s team requested a video replay it would have clearly ruled out the goal and a free kick would have been awarded to United for the offside. More recently Everton scored what they thought was a valid goal against Aston Villa only for the referee to wave play on as he didn’t believe the ball had crossed the line. Villa then took the ball to the opposite end and scored a goal which was deemed valid by the referee. In this instance, had the toffees  used their right to challenge and subsequently proved that the ball had crossed the line, then the referee would have to disallow Aston Villa’s goal (which in effect was not a legal goal), award a goal to the blues and restart with a kick off. If the evidence shows that the referee’s decision was right then Villa’s goal would stand and Everton would have lost their right to challenge further decisions during that half. I would also rule that the ball would have to become dead within 30 seconds of any incident for a challenge to be allowed. 

4.    OFFSIDE: this is such a grey area, let’s make it black and white. If any team has a player in an offside position when the ball is played forward…he is offside, end of story. Whether or not he is interfering with play is irrelevant. It works in rugby.

5.    REFEREE’S SUMMATION: In top flight games such as the Premiership, F.A. Cup and Champion’s League I would rule that at the end of each match, part of the referee’s and officials duty is to attend a post match meeting which would have the Managers of both clubs, a representative from a neutral club and an official from the F.A./UEFA  to summarise their game and any decisions that are made. This would make referees more accountable for ensuring correct decisions are made during games and also give them the chance to hold their hands up when they get it wrong.

6.    COMMUNICATION: Once again like our rugby friends and in American Football, I would rule that referees are miked up and all conversations and decisions are broadcast live to the audience. This would give everyone a clear understanding of decisions as they happen.

I know these may seem quite radical but I strongly believe that if our game is to move forward then a change in rules is a necessity. These changes can only make the game better.

Ray Peck

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