By Tony Attwood
If you have ever studied physics you will know that there are two types of time: proper time and improper time. Proper Time is experienced by the traveller, and Improper Time by the person who is not moving. In normal everyday events it is hard to see any difference. Start travelling at somewhere near the speed of light and you really do know the difference. A person venturing to the stars might age 20 years on a trip to the Centuri system, and come back to find the Earth 1000 years older.
Quite what time Sir Alex Ferguson measures I have never worked out, but it seems to be a third type of time – Fergie Time. When the Tiny Totts beat Manchester U he claimed that not enough stoppage time was played. It is a regular claim of his when things go wrong.
And this is what links physics with football: what sort of time are we talking about when we discuss football matches?
Are we talking of the minute or so that teams take to celebrate a goal and return the ball. The 10 seconds or more that some keepers take to release the ball once they have picked it up. The 30 seconds to two minutes that they take to find the ball, find the area, put the ball in the right place, take a sip of water, kick mud off the boot, run up, decide the positioning was wrong, shout at the defenders, and then kick the ball out.
Then there are stoppages for free kicks. Experts in time wasting take them very quickly and then get hauled back by the ref, who claims he was not ready, and then strangely they take a long old time to take the kick again.
Some time-wasting is legit. There is nothing in the rules to stop a player taking the ball into the corner and trying to stop anyone else getting up. But the time wasting of keepers etc is surely against the spirit of the game, if not the laws.
At the Emirates, the north bank fans have at last started to draw attention to these matters, by counting seconds the goal keepers take to kick the ball out. It tends not to speed them up, but it does alert the ref. Sadly the ref usually does nothing more than wave to the player and ask him to hurry up. The most we have ever seen is a keeper being given a yellow in the 93rd minute of the game. An automatic red card for time wasting would help matters a bit.
Subs are another problem area. Count up the time it takes for a sub to get off the field – it can be up to a minute – sometimes two or three. Watch it happen. The manager or an assistant gives a sign to a player, who then trots to the point furthest away from the point where changes are made. Then when the whistle goes for the substitution to happen he finds himself looking the other way. Eventually his attention is drawn to the fact that he is going to be a sub. Amazed and incredulous he stands still and points at himself in utter amazement. When the board is shown in his direction he looks at the ground, shakes his head sadly, waves to his supporters and then slowly, very slowly walks off.
The amount of time considered lost for all time wasting and other activities is judged by the ref, and only the ref. And since it is obvious that refs are not allowing time in relation to the time that should be allocated in relation to the game itself, clearly the refs are not doing their job properly. If PGMOL was doing its stuff, it would warn all refs of this matter and start penalising them for failing to act properly in each game. The fact that PGMOL does nothing is another indictment of that organisation.
Further the refs should be sued by supporters who come to see a game properly refereed, and yet never do. They are after all guilty of misrepresentation – the game is no longer 45 minutes each half – indeed it is nothing like.
The obvious answer is to have a master clock in the stadium where it can be seen by supporters and officials alike, and which is stopped when the ball is out of play, and started again when it is in play.
There’s one other point here. Newspapers out to knock Arsenal regularly report about the fact that Arsenal is the most expensive team in the league to watch at home. (It isn’t as we have shown time and again). But supposing we actually measured the time wasting of each team, then we could balance cost against time played. That would surely give us a much more interesting measure of value for money.
Making the Arsenal—————————
- Has Wenger made a mistake with Arteta?
- Do we need the little clubs? Does anyone care about their local side?
- Looking at the defence
- This year, last year; a comparison of progress
- A new Arsenal forward this January
- How does one value football clubs vs players?
- Mannone, what a difference 10 months can make
- How Far How Fast
- Comparing the seasons after 7 games