By Tony Attwood
Summer parties have been a bit damp in much of England this year – but on Saturday 9th June I attended one in Rushden, Northants, which allowed a spot of sitting outside, sipping the drinks and taking in the chatter, and some extremely lovely food.
I knew few of the guests, so inevitably got chatting to who ever was standing around and not talking about things and people of whom and which I knew nothing. There was a little chat with a Professor of Maths (retired) from the Open University (“I am still entitled to the title ‘Professor’ – it stays with you for life”) and an interesting young real estate lawyer from New Zealand who was desperately to find work in the UK.
And inevitably there were some Arsenal supporters there. There was a Tottenham man and a Chelsea fan, but inevitably in every party in the Midlands, Arsenal always dominates.
So we got chatting, I spoke about the research I’ve been doing on Leslie Knighton (see the History site if you haven’t caught up with it) and what with one thing and another, I found myself listening to a lifetime supporter by the name of Russell Cox.
Russell put forward an idea for dealing with serious foul play in football which I found revolutionary and exciting and although I don’t normally reveal the chit-chat by the fish pond, this was so good, I’ll make an exception.
Here it is:
If a player gets sent off for serious foul play, instead of the player being banned for 3 games, the “position” should be banned for three games. In other words the offending player’s team would have to play the next three games with only ten players.
Now on the technicality of banning the “position” I am not sure that would quite work, because play can be fluid and who is to say if (for example) the centre half (to use the old phrase) was sent off, that in the next match the defensive midfielder was actually not dropping back into that position. Besides, to ban the position of goalkeeper after a sending off would remove an essential part of football.
But the idea of the reduction to 10 men, I love.
Of course there is a danger that it would put even more power into the hands of a ref. If Arsenal are done down by a referee who is in the pay packet of another club, then by getting the player sent off the ref would be able to influence not only this match, but the next three matches.
So I guess we would have to say that the new rule would be implemented alongside a full and firm investigation into the dubious activities of PGMOL and ref fixing. (See Untold Refs and Untold Corruption for all the background – the links at are at the end.)
But I loved this idea so much it made me think: what else could we change in the rule book?
Certainly we could take referees out of matches automatically if their rating fell below a certain level as judged by an independent panel.
And we could also do something about injuries. How about this: if a player is injured as a result of a foul, then he can have attention as now – but the bit about having to go off the pitch to come back on should be abandoned.
But if a player is injured through any other reason, and he causes the ref to come over to him, because he continues to lay on the ground, he would then have to go off and stay off for five minutes with the fourth assistant indicating when the time was up.
I would also love to see implemented some of the rules that currently exist – such as the keeper only being able to hold the ball for five seconds.
And I would introduce a rule in which the keeper has only 10 seconds to take a goal kick from the moment in which the ball is returned to him or a member of his team, after it has gone out of play.
Oh yes, and there’s one to do with rotational time wasting (where others collude with the keeper to take forever to take a goal kick, free kick, throw in, etc) and rotational fouling (where players take it in turn to commit small time niggling fouls so that no one gets booked for repeated foul play). I think every time the ref spots this, he should give a yellow card to the captain of the team. So do it twice and your captain is sent off.
I am sure there are but I’ll stop here. A million thanks to Russell, whom I had never met before yesterday, for the idea. While the ladies were discussing the latest in soft porn, and the men were trying to work out how the “magician mindreader” did his “pick a word at random from this book” routine, it was a great conversation.
And it was a great party too.
- Untold Ref Reviews: Man C 1 Man U 0
- This is a moment that Arsenal should spend a little cash. £100m anyone?
- If trophies were on offer, where would you draw the line?
- On the history site Height and cost restrictions
- The Ultimate review of Refs’ Performances. The start of the complete analysis.