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In a recent article we had a debate about the amount of time lost in a match to time wasting. The argument being, there is so much time lost to freekicks, goal kicks, throw ins etc. that it is becoming a joke. More than that, it is actually a ‘rip-off’. Fundamentally the argument is, people pay a lot of money to see 90 minutes of football, but in reality only get to see a fraction of that.
On the back of that, there have been a few suggestions on how to tackle this issue, most of which are based around the idea of an independent timekeeper. There are a number of variations on this theme, but the one I like is a prominent timer in the stadium that visibly shows the time being added on as it happens.
But that is neither here nor there, what I found interesting was one comment that said “I have the answer, just leave it to hell alone, it’s been like this forever”.
It got me thinking. Never a good thing. Has it? Has it been like this forever? Well of course no, it hasn’t. As such I thought I have a look back and see just what changes have been made, especially in regards to eliminating time wasting, or keeping the game flowing, as well as a few other more general rule changes.
So, this notion that ‘it has been like this forever’ is clearly wrong, because as we will see below The Laws Of The Game have been changing and evolving since the first ball was kicked in anger back in the 1800’s. Not that I was there of course. [Nor, contrary to popular belief, was I – Tony]. And what’s more it had absolutely nothing to do with our friends across the pond, which was another accusation.
So, the first few Law changes I will mention are specifically aimed at the current debate around time wasting, or more broadly speaking, keeping the game flowing. As you will see most, though not all, revolve around the goalkeeper and goal kicks.
-Taking of a goal kick from anywhere inside the 6 yard box. Introduced in 1992. As stated at the time, this change was made in order to “eliminate one of the common timewasting tactics”
-Back pass rule. Introduced in 1997. Keeps the game flowing and makes it much faster.
-6 second rule. Introduced in 1998. This applies to ball in hand, goal kicks and any other stop in play, anywhere on the pitch. Obviously as above.
-Ball in play from a goal kick. Introduced in 2020.The ball is in play from a goal kick when it is kicked and clearly moves. It no longer has to leave the box.
So that’s four law changes that I could find, all concerning the keeper and goal kicks. All aimed at keeping the game flowing. Mind you it’s a mute point as to whether they all work as intended.
So again, this notion that ‘it’s been like this forever’ is clearly misguided. It certainly hasn’t. And not only regarding adaptions in order to nullify timewasting. There have been many others that try to make the game, safer, more attacking, fan-friendly.
On that basis, and why I was at it, I thought I’d list a few other major, and more minor, changes that I could think of. Others may bring more to mind:
- From 2 to 3 points for a win.
- Goal ‘average’ to goal ‘difference’ to decide a tie in the League Table.
- The offside rule has changed numerous times. It didn’t even exist in the early days.
- Number of substitutes.
- Spray foam for freekicks.
- Away goals counting double, then not.
- How the kick-off can be taken.
- Names on shirts.
- Advertising on shirts.
I could go on, there are hundreds, if not thousands of changes over the years. Some very major, some very minor, but changes nonetheless.
Everyone will have their own view on the rights and wrongs of a lot of these changes, but just from a personal perspective these are what I consider the biggest and indeed the most beneficial changes over the years:
- Off-side rule. Introduced in 1863, amended in 1923. Basically it stopped ‘goal-hanging’.
- Goal average to goal difference for settling a tie in the league table. Increased emphasis on offensive play. Introduced at the World Cup in 1970. 1975 in English football.
- 3 points for a win. English football league 1981. Rest of the World 1994. Again increased emphasis on offensive play, but even more so.
- Back pass rule. Introduced in the Premier League in 1997. Keeps the game flowing and makes it much faster.
They are the rules that I think had the biggest ‘positive’ impact on our game. Opinions may vary.
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