As Tony and I made our way back from the Emirates last night we made our usual dissection of the game, our players, the officials and the opposition. I think we came to the general conclusion that Burnley were well organized but never posed a threat, the win was welcome, and Alexis is awesome.
It was quiet yesterday, as if the crowd expected Arsenal to turn up and entertain us; well it doesn’t always work like that – we have to get involved. The travelling support seemed content to direct their chants at Blackburn rather than provoke the Clock End. To be fair to them they kept up their support of their team to the end and they came to London in large numbers. I can’t see them staying up but they played football and didn’t kick us so good luck to them.
Tony pointed out that Heaton (the Burnley keeper) wasted time from quite early on, using the classic long goal kick to do so. The referee looked at him but didn’t do anything and the Emirates showed its frustration by booing every time it happened.
This got me to thinking if there is a way we could embarrasses the ref into taking action or at least highlight the fact that the rules of the game are being bent, if not completely broken. After all it happens every week.
I then hit on four other ways in which I think small innovations or rule changes might improve football as a spectacle and make it a fairer game. So here they are, feel free to let me know what you think or add your own.
1. A countdown for goal kicks
We could use the big screens to put up a countdown timer, clearly visible to the crowd, managers, players and officials, whenever the ball goes out for goal kick. This would show EXACTLY how much time the keeper was taking to hoof the ball up field. As I understand it (Walter might correct me) there is no set time but after 6 seconds the ref should encourage the keeper to get on with it and then warn him if he does not, a caution can follow a warning.
2. Treat goal kicks like corners
It used to be the case that the keeper had no choice about which side of the penalty area he kicked out from; it was entirely dependent upon where the ball had gone out of play, just as it is from corners. But that law was changed (no idea why) and this allows keepers to a) waste time as they choose which one to use and wander (very slowly) across their area to do so; and b) to favour their stronger foot.
There is no logic in making this different from corner kicks so either let’s revert to the old rule OR allow attacking team to decide which side they want to take the corner from. *
3. No double jeopardy for keepers
One of the rules that I hate is the one that says that if a keeper brings a player down in the box, and is the last man, he gets sent off. The defending team then has to face a penalty with a substitute keeper, AND lose an outfield player AND probably concede a goal.
This is a very harsh punishment in footballing terms and is out of all proportion to the offence. The goalie is likely to be the last man on most occasions because that is where he should be. If the keeper rushes ten yards out of his area and upends the advancing striker with violence that’s fair enough, but if he just trips him inside the box, in an attempt to get the ball its an excessive punishment.
4. Allow appeals against yellow cards
If a player is red carded he or his club can appeal the decision and, if TV or other evidence shows the official to have made a wrong judgment any ban can be overturned. No such appeal is allowed for yellow cards though, so if a player gets 2 cautions he is off and banned for one match, regardless of whether those decisions were correct.
Again there is no logic here, it is an unfair rule and yes, it might lead to more appeals but then perhaps referees need to be better at judging when a caution is required.
5. No yellows for celebrations
The rule that says a referee has to issue a yellow card when a player removes his shirt is stupid, and everyone knows it. The point behind the rule (I imagine) is to prevent players from inciting opposition fans or holding up play unduly.
Let’s take the second point first. Goal celebrations might hold up play but not as much as endemic time-wasting by keepers. But as to the incitement issue refs could use their discretion, so if a player rips off his top and bares his chest in a provocative manner in front of the opposition fans or bench then yes, book him. But if a player scores the winner or a last minute equalizer in an important game then the celebration is part of the spectacle and shouldn’t be penalized. Common sense is required and officials should be able to know when to apply penalties.
Few things annoy me more in football than seeing a player booked for celebrating a great goal while other escape cards for persistent and dangerous fouling, and it happens ALL the time.
These are just five ways in which the game might be fairer, better, quicker and less frustrating for supporters like me, who pay hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds supporting our teams. I think the FA should listen to us.
* This would make little difference to Arsenal as we are cr*p at taking them both sides :/