Five easy ways to improve the beautiful game

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 :/


Untold Arsenal is here

43 Replies to “Five easy ways to improve the beautiful game”

  1. Isn’t professional foul a straight red…..

    And isn’t the Boyd handball a professional foul??…

  2. Few more ways to improve the experience for those who watch on TV.

    1. For Heaven’s sake please give an option to mute the commentary. I can’t bear the Ultra-Biased English commentary against Arsenal. (whether it be any TV channel in the world). Any other language would be fine.

    2. TV replays. Same amount should be shown for each team, not like 5 replays for a fluffed shot TEAM A and just one quick replay from a bad angle in case of Arsenal.

    3. Whenever there is a stoppage in play (for example Goal-kicks, throw-ins, fouls, offsides) do not start to focus on certain individuals (like the Manager, the player,etc). This often leads to the case of the time being wasted not shown on TV. The camera should be focused where the ball is, so that the people watching the TV also feel pain and disgust at how referee is allowing the opposition to waste the time.

  3. You need to go further with no.4. We should have an in-game referal system, like they have in cricket and tennis. The technology is available, there is no reason not to do it.

    Taking off a shirt is not allowed because when a player scores, the camera is focused on him, and if he takes his shirt off, the cameras won’t pick up the advertising on the front of the shirt. So this rule is all about the money, so don’t expect it to change.

  4. Of course, the easy way to get rid of time wasting is to keep time the way they do in rugby. There is a giant clock in the stadium that keeps the time, and it stops when play stops, and resumes when play resumes. When time is up for half time or the end of the game, a siren sounds. So there is no human judgement involved, and there is no added time. The clock records exactly how much time has been played.

  5. Blacksheep,

    I agree with the idea of a stadium clock, this would remove much of the frustration over time wasting, but not the element of slowing the game down (gamesmanship). From the few games I have checked the time lost to stoppages, I would think that two halves of 35 minutes, excluding all time the ball is not in play – throw ins, fouls, goal kicks, corners, injuries, substitutions, etc would be about right. The clock to be stopped immediately it goes out of play or the ref blows his whistle (or other signal to the timekeeper) and to be restarted once the team with the ball have restarted play.

    I m sure that the stadium clocks would not be allowed to show a seconds count at goal kicks etc in exactly the same way as they don’t show replays of contentious incidents, altho showing both would be sure to shake things up with the referees.

    The only sure way to get some consistency (and correctness) to refereeing decisions is the full use of video replays. The technology is there and it wouldn’t hold up play. Team captains and Managers should be allowed to question a decision by replay if they are not satisfied. I would suggest two cards to be used each half, if a decision is overturned, that challenge is retained, if the original decision is held correct the card is lost.

  6. On time wasting by goalkeepers, until we have a clock a la rugby, controlled by an official, the crowd could play a part in calling out the delay in seconds. The referee could not ignore such a noise.
    As goal kicks can now be taken from anywhere within the goal area, (which makes absolute sense), it would be revert to the old Law.

    difficult to revert to

  7. Nicky, some have started to do just that one the North Bank, shouting ONE TWO THREE…etc

    Usama, you do have a way to mute the commentary, its called the MUTE button 🙂

  8. Nicky, are you sure about the gaol kick rule? Keepers always place the ball on the 6 yard box to kick, if they can take it from anywhere why don’t they use the whole area?

  9. RAsenal 13 said: “Isn’t professional foul a straight red….. And isn’t the Boyd handball a professional foul??…”

    Yes but Boyd had just been booked too (as well as scything down Mert in the second half.

    I have argued for a long term about these silly yellow cards that get given for nothing, so I am happy not to see players gettung sent off for two inoxious yellows. BUT it appears to me that Arsenal players get less leniancy than other teams sides, which peeves me.

    Totally agree about goalkeepers getting sent off for penalties.

    But there is an easy answer.

    1. The 4th official has a monitor – lets face it he does little else for his money!
    2. Big decisions get shown on the big screen – eliminates referees making biased decisions and adds another bit of drama and entertainment
    3. Countdown clock for goal kicks is brilliant
    4. Goal kicks MUST be taken at the side the ball goes out of play – why did they change that rule?
    5. Retrospective decisions, irrespective of whether the referee saw the incident or not – make the referees and linesmen accountable.
    6. Fine and shame officials that make bad decisions – again accountability
    7. Match officials should disclose the team they support – so we all know.

    How do we stop the inconsistency of yellow cards? Look at Oscar who was allowed to make umpteen fouls before his first yellow – while other players get one for the first foul?

  10. Sorry about the spelling and grammar there. Typing on a tablet is not as easy as a PC.

  11. @Andrew Crawshaw
    November 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    “I m sure that the stadium clocks would not be allowed to show a seconds count at goal kicks etc in exactly the same way as they don’t show replays of contentious incidents, altho showing both would be sure to shake things up with the referees.”

    So true and so sad that we are FED info and denied the right to witness for ourselves, almost channeling us into thinking we were seeing (in replay on big screen questionable decisions) or imagining things (tim waisting).

  12. How long is the ball in play?

    I heard a stat that the average time the ball is in play in Premier League games is only 62 minutes. Assuming 2-3 minutes of injury time, this means the ball is out of play for 30 minutes. That is scandalous.

    So perhaps the answer is simple. Ball goes out of play and the clock stops. That would put an immediate end to time wasting.

  13. @blacksheep

    Mute as in just the commentary but not the sound within the stadium. The oooohss and aaahhhss sound better without commentary. 🙂

  14. @blacksheep

    Mute as in just the commentary but not the sound within the stadium. The oooohss and aaahhhss sound better without commentary. 🙂

    forgot to use the main email .

  15. @Blacksheep63,
    Law 16 re goalkicks says “The ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player from the defending team”.

  16. @ blacksheep63.
    i commented previously about the fact that the crowd should start counting out loud the seconds of how long the keeper takes to play the ball.

    I dont go to many games, due to travel and ticket costs (not that i am complaining, London is an expensive city – my rent in zone 5 is nearly a grand for a two bed flat!) But i am pleased to hear people are starting to count.

    Ideally either the big screen would show a timer, or even better, we would have the clock stopped when the ball is out of play.

    However i honestly believe that if tens of thousands start counting the seconds, it would embarrass the sport into changes. Worst case scenario it would surely break a record for co-ordinated counting!

    I especially want to know why the supporters groups, especially the ones complaining of a 3% price rise, have not taken issue with this yet. It is ridiculous that 20 -30% of a game is wasted. We are paying for this, whether through tv subscriptions or tickets.

    It goes to show how biased and bloody minded they are for attacking the club andnot these ridiculous time wasting tactics which affect us all!!!

  17. The yellow card for removing one’s shirt is also aimed at discouraging political or other campaign slogans (“Rio Ferdinand is innocent”, etc) or ambush marketing. Imagine how annoyed major Champions League sponsors Heineken would be if the TV cameras tomorrow night were to focus on Poldi’s celebratory undershirt promoting Becks, Flamini’s lauding Kronenbourg, or Santi’s extolling San Miguel.

    Granted, given he appears to have had his shooting boots stolen this season, it’s highly unlikely that Santi will get the opportunity to rip his shirt off in the near future, though we can but hope….

  18. I don’t think teams would be allowed to have a stop clock (a clock which started at zero on every stoppage of play). But what might be useful, is a cumulative stoppage clock. Perhaps even a stealthy one. For instance, the game report on Burnley:

    The bottom of the lead photo has:

    > Referee: Craig Pawson : 60,012

    Just put after the attendence:

    > Cumulative Stoppage Time: 20:43

    I would like to raise a point with respect to which side a goal kick is taken from. In the event of strong cross winds, I think the goalkeeper will tend to take the kick from the upwind side, so as to maximize the chance of keeping the ball in play.

    I think the celebration cards is more about advertising on one’s undershirt, than political slogans.

  19. A sixth easy way…..rid the game of Blatter, Platini, scudamore and Riley. There will be some sort of strange lineage there

  20. Hey, Walter. You are wasting your time with this. We should hire a sniper and make him sit on the Towers for both halfs. Stadium management will only let the opponent goalkeepers about this. We will see how the keepers gonna take a snip of water then.

  21. Two things come to mind regarding this topic :
    1. Removing a shirt in celebration after a goal is just plain idiotic, full stop.
    For whatever reason, good or bad, it’s a guaranteed yellow. In my view any professional who gets a yellow for this offence should be fined a weeks wages. They all know the rules, live with it and be an adult. Getting a dumb yellow and then being under pressure of getting sent off for a mistimed tackle or bringing a suspension closer is harming the team. Do something else, (run around, jump up and down, do a silly dance, it doesn’t matter, just don’t ever wilfully harm your own team.

    When a player is injured and requires treatment on the pitch, he is required to leave the field for a few seconds until called back on by the ref. this leaves his team down to 10 men for that time. In the case of the injury being the result of a foul, I suggest that the player who committed the foul should leave the pitch too . Why should a foul gain an advantage even for a few seconds?

    Fully agree on the double punishment for the keeper, a pen and if necessary a yellow is more than enough. Keepers get raw deal as it stands.

  22. Lets get over the important thing first @proudkey – just goes to show doctors are not always right ‘keep using the tablet’ does not overcome spelling.

    Penalising goalkeepers for going for the ball with their arms outstretched & bringing a player down is a travesty. If a player cannot get the ball past the keeper into the goal, without making contact with the keeper, then the referee should award a goal kick unless the ball went out of play after the keeper played the ball, in which case it should be a corner. Penalising keepers with red cards and penalties is a farce, unless the play was dangerous.

    A keeper is an intrinsic part of the Game and any obstruction of the keeper should be a foul, including standing in front of the keeper for corners.

  23. Here are a few of my ideas (based on personal experience at the professional and amateur level as a player and official):

    1)Alter the substitution rules to allow a seriously injured player to be substituted (one time only in a game)without counting it as one of the 3 substitutions normally permitted. Alternately, the number of substitutes could be increased to 4 in a game.

    2)Assistants are usually asked to keep time with the referee and signal him/her when there are less than 2 minutes remaining (usually), but the ref is the final timekeeper. I would suggest that the assistants be permitted to signal the referee when there is time wasting by the keeper or another player. This could be done by using a flag or hand signal….it is simple and very appropriate, but the referee must pay attention to it, just like any other assistants’ call.

    3)Permit managers to ask the 4th assistant to review an event using the video replay panel like the Dutch have done experimentally. There could be 2 requests permitted per game, one in the first half and one in the second half. If it is a review of a goal, the referee must be told to await the review before restarting play since if he/she restarts play then the goal is final.

    4)Bringing the game into disrepute (the rationale for a caution to an overly exuberant, shirt-lifting goalscorer) is meant to discourage excessive and unprofessional displays, NOT to avoid advertisements on shirts being shown. That said, the referee should warn the manager verbally that another incident like that will end in a caution for the offender. The alternative might be to issue a red card…..goal celebrations would be fairly restrained after a few of those but this is swatting a fly with a sledgehammer as we say here.

    4)Drop the throw-in entirely and replace it with am indirect free kick from where the ball left the field of play. This would open the game up and at the same time prevent the defender from using it as a time-wasting mechanism. I saw this experimented with in an amateur game a few years back and it really made the game open up and forced the teams to think about where and how they defended.

    5)Have the same interpretation of the rules for a keeper who brings down an attacker BUT who clearly touched the ball BEFORE he brought down the opponent, as refs do for tackles where the defender played the ball before tripping his opponent. Why punish a keeper who clearly played the ball and not the man? As well, if there is a card to be given it should be only a yellow unless the keeper clearly prevented a perfect goal-scoring opportunity without playing the ball.

    6) Allow NO contact with the keeper in his goal area. A free kick and a caution would be awarded for such contact if the ball was in play. If a goal is scored, it is disallowed and an indirect free kick given. There is far too much shoving and blocking of the keeper on his line in this area. Outside the goal area, contact would be permitted as normal (no charging when the keeper is in possession of the ball).

    7)Permit substituted players to leave the field anywhere other than between the goalposts. This would significantly speed up the game. The referee could signal that the player has left the field of play and the 4th official would then permit the in-coming player to enter but always at the centre line. If the substituted player re-entered the field of play either before play restarted or during play, the ref would issue a caution in both instances but if during play, award an indirect free kick to the opponents as well from the spot where the player re-entered the field.

    There are more ideas that can be suggested but these seem rational and effective to me. We don’t want to shame officials as that only serves to harden their already adverse attitudes but rather we need to aid them in their game management and control issues by removing the burdens the Laws place on them as they are now…..they would welcome that I can assure you.

  24. Some very fine suggestions here that would improve the standard and also our enjoyment of the game .
    My joy would be manifold if we were to remove from this site , all vestige of those fake ‘fans’ called the AAAA .
    Those wolves in sheep ‘s clothing , who try to pass off as the genuine article but most often fail miserably . They always get rammed in the ‘end’ !
    Just like in this tale ….

  25. @proudkev
    The 4th official has a monitor …

    I wonder if he gets the same feed that is shown on TV? If so then the broadcaster, that is, Sky or BT can determine what he sees.

    The 4th official would truly need to have all the replays at his command to be able to have a fair overview of the game.

  26. My joy would be manifold if you put your hand in your pocket and spent somey money and watched Arsenal for once . Maybe not !

  27. Send players to the sin bin if they are on a second yellow and the infringement is innocuous, like kicking the ball away after the whistle’s blown or a shove or soft tackle on an opponent. Produce a purple card and send the offender off for seven minutes.

  28. The big spender –

    A man went to the pub with his wife . When he left for the counter to buy drinks , a prostitute approached his wife and whispered , “You must DEMAND cash before sex , I know him – he doesn’t pay !”

  29. @omgarsenal,
    Your 3.27 am makes an extremely valuable point.
    In the last paragraph, you say
    “We don’t want to shame officials as this only serves to harden their already adverse attitudes….”.
    I have felt for some time that the detailed criticism that (say) Walter produces from time to time, can only “serve to harden” as you have said. Human nature being what it is. No official likes to be constantly told of his obvious mistakes in public.
    Now this is not to say that Untold should cease bringing grievous errors to our attention.
    I merely suggest that our appalling treatment by some referees has this possible reason behind it.

  30. @Mandy

    Yes, it’s amazing how some people can get round the rules. We suffer for years and Arsene has to work his socks off to keep us in the Champions League while we’re paying for our new stadium. But not Real Madrid.

  31. Some great ideas and a lot of sense, and common sense spoken, but I really think it’s all pretty superfluous because the whole point is the PGMOL WANT the ambiguity.

    How else can you dance to the pipers tune, or the media as we know them better, if you haven’t got the room to manoeuvre.

    Fergie time was born out of the ambiguity surrounding the way a match is timed.

    Do you really think they want that option taken away from them?

  32. Chapmans ghost @ 8:50AM

    I’ve been saying something similar for a long time. Maybe not a sin bin, although I’m not against it, but certainly an ‘intermediate’ card for what I term ‘Technical’ fouls such as Tacking the shirt off, jumping over the hoardings, kicking the ball away, failing to retreat 10 yards, that kind of thing.

    My idea of the punishment, rather than the ‘sin bin’ was perhaps fines. Now I know there rich beyond dreams but if it was done on a percentage of there wage even they may get a bit miffed if £10K was docked from there wages on a regular basis just for tacking there shirt off.

    Just a thought, but it will never happen, however I do believe there is a definite need for an ‘intermediate’ card, be it purple, orange or whatever to bridge the gap of getting the same Yellow for wasting a bit of time as you do for risking a players career with a Cahill type tackle.

  33. I forgot to say that with regards to the fines, they shouldn’t go towards lining the pockets of the PL or FA but rather to the Clubs chosen charity.

  34. @ Quincy

    I have suggested numerous times that this method of keeping time be adopted.

    Wonder if there is some way of persuading the club to take it up with the FA/PL

  35. Apologies if anyone’s come up with this already, I haven’t time to read all the comments at the moment. As suggested earlier, clocks counting the time taken by a gk would never be allowed, however, what about a basketball rule. You are only allowed so many seconds to carry out certain acts so give a gk 10 seconds to take the kick and have a countdown on the large screen for all to see. If he doesn’t take the kick within the time limit, it becomes a corner…’d never see gk’s take long then! Ultimately though, the only sensible rule is the fourth official timing when the ball is in and out of play with a stop watch.

    Also re the appeals against yellows. Totally agree but I would go a step further and issue yellows retrospectively.

    What annoys me about yellows is that most referees seem unable to distinguish between ‘accidental’ and ‘deliberate’. A defender makes a genuine attempt to slide tackle a winger and is 0.1 seconds late and the forward rolls about – no intent, yellow card (for us anyway). Shirt pulling all game, no card as it’s not spectacular but only the latter is a deliberate attempt to infringe the rules. It’s not rocket science.

  36. I think the punishment for wasting time should be a yellow card for the captain of the team no matter who does it. That way the team is punished and not the individual.

    The keeper can now do whatever he can to waste time and see how far he can push the limit. If he gets a yellow card it really doesn’t matter, he’s not likely to get another one. He’s achieved what he wanted: To waste time. But if his actions can result in a yellow card to the captain I think he would be more careful in doing it. And if the captain is already on a yellow card he would be responsible for having his own captain sent off! That would make him think twice before wasting time.

    Per Arne Flø
    Oslo, Norway

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