Don McMahon

in my never-ending eagerness to anticipate potential improvements to the Beautiful Game and at the same time explore what other sports have experimented with or are considering doing, the urge to write a definitive compendium of such ideas and changes has overwhelmed me. So I did an internet search and a bit of research involving my colleagues and fellow supporters locally and came up with some fascinating options currently being considered for application in the near or distant future. The first 9 ideas come from Arsenal/Arsenal bloggers. The remainder come from various media and FA sources.

1) A team can have 3 challenges per match but only in certain conditions:
If they believe that a goal allowed should not stand or a disallowed goal should stand;
If they believe that an awarded penalty should not stand;
If they believe that a red card should not stand. In my view, the video should be used to confirm or rule out a decision made. I think a captain should be the only person allowed to make a challenge too.

2) When the ball goes out of play on 45 or 90 minutes it’s over, losing team must keep the ball and winning team/team happy with a draw can kick it out? It’s easy to manage, ref stops play by blowing whistle and the clock freezes and restarts at the start of play! Once the 45 or 90 minutes are up there is no stoppage time added, therefore no more controversy.

3) The player that commits a serious, injury-causing foul should also leave the pitch and only be allowed to return at the same time as the injured player. This may open the door for faking injury just to remove an opposing player so it could just be used if a card is issued = the foul is bad enough.

4)If a player commits a cynical foul such as pulling back a player who has gone past him, he is shown a black (purple/blue?) card. This means that he has to leave the field but can be replaced by another player as long as his team have not used all their substitutes. As well, I suggested that injured players being replaced should NOT count as one of the 3 substitutes.

5) if a manager thinks a yellow card has been unjust (and they often are) why isn’t there a process whereby he can askthe video ref to review his yellow card decision after the game (or the next day). All refs get it wrong once in a while and if the video evidence is clear, he would have to rescind the card. Currently only red cards can be reviewed and this is a lengthy process that involves several experts – but sometimes a yellow card, if it is a second, or if it adds to an automatic ban due to accumulation, can be just as damaging.

6) For very minor incidents, let the ref review video evidence of his own decisions after the game, in that way he/she is not being undermined and may actually learn something from the process. If they see something seriously wrong, they can then defer it to the current panel for adjudication.

7) Double points for the last game of the season. This would make for interesting run-ins and could actually determine relegation , a CL place or even the EPL title.

8) Post-match red cards. It also might have the effect that players knowing they can be punished after a match might think twice. The punishment would be the same in either case but no player or manager would likely risk a review and lose a player, due to the manager’s ¨break their legs¨ tactics.

9) Extend the goal line technology to the sidelines and the entire end lines, to determine if a ball went out of play? In the sideline case, ref’s wrist detector gets a buzz right away, blows the play dead, and awards the throw in. If undecided as to who touched last, consult the assistant The end line situation is trickier, because the decision on who touched last has a much bigger impact on the match (goal kick or corner) than the awarding of a throw in.

10) Clamp down on swearing just as we do at any workplace or in schools, and in public.

11) Scrap the transfer windows and return to an open transfer system. This would permit teams like Arsenal to either recruit temporarily or permanently, or bring someone in on loan.

12) Reintroduce a ball that holds its line. The unpredictability of the modern ball is not always advantageous.

13) All matches kick-off at 3pm Saturday.

14) Bring back the advancement of free-kicks for dissent The 10-yard rule works in this country and was unfortunately dropped by Fifa. The only change I would make would be to take out the mandatory caution for dissent. Having the ball moved forward is deterrent enough.

15) Do away with elite referees. All referees should have a chance to officiate at the top level. There are some terrific referees in the football league.

16) Scrap the FIFA and FA age limit of 48 for referees. Providing they are fit enough and their form is good, they should be allowed to continue to the age of 50 or even 55. It’s a shame when good ones are lost, as was the case when Colina retired.

17) Introduce wage-capping. This has been successful in rugby league and it’s worth looking at otherwise the rich will get even richer and the poor will just get poorer.

18) Increase fan representation. With over 120 Trusts in the UK and 13 clubs in Trust ownership or control, it is increasingly recognized that responsible supporter representation is not a threat but a much-valued necessity which can improve communication, financial governance and accountability.

19) Make more games affordable. Fulham offer 10-match, six-match and big-match deals to supporters who don’t want to buy a full season ticket. Charlton run a Valley Express service to every game, from more than 60 venues. Other clubs need to encourage a similar greater range of ticket pricing and supporter assistance.

20) Replenish the competition. A greater redistribution of income throughout all the leagues would serve the long-term growth of the competition, help lessen the impact of relegation and promote more open football.

The FA are currently considering the following:

  •  A new League Three, to be introduced in 2016-17, combining the top half of the Conference and 10 Premier League B sides.
  • A beefed-up homegrown players’ rule requiring 13 members of the 25-man squad to have been trained in England as youngsters by 2020-21.
  • A more strictly enforced work permit system that would prevent Premier League sides from having more than two non-EU players.
  • A new loan system that will allow Premier League clubs to loan up to eight players to a strategic partner below the Championship.

The debate and discussion is open so please be positive and share your ideas for improving the Game.


  1. There are some great suggestions here.

    I personally do not like the double points suggestion. F1 has this in place. I just don’t get along with it. A league should be scored in the same way for every round. Its artificial.

    All games kicking off at 3.00pm Saturday…yes
    I would like the return of 1 – 11 on shirts for match days. I know it wont happen.
    The time management suggestion, similar to that used in Rugby is a great suggestion, so is the 3 appeals per team.
    Agree with the referee allocation to games. Abolish PGMOL and Mike Riley.

    I also think its a shame that the Eufa Cup and Cup Winners cup were disolved. Especially the latter. It would reinvigorate the FA Cup if reintroduced.
    For international football I would also like the home internationals to be re-introduced at the expense of some of the meaningless friendlies played. In fact International football needs to take a long look at itself. How relevant is it now in its current form?

  2. Many good suggestions indeed!!

    If I may add one that comes to mind just now – going along the same lines the referee allocations and doing away with the ‘elite group’; From the point where the PL schedule of games has been drawn up, the referees to ref each game should be drawn from a hat so to speak and the process be televised much like CL group draws. This way there will be no way of selecting refs that suit one or the other team.

  3. @Gooner S
    November 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    “International football needs to take a long look at itself. How relevant is it now in its current form?”

    Have asked the same question myself many times…especially the need for SO MANY friendlies – knowing that most of the selected players are so heavily committed with games in the highest and most demanding level of football (League,Cup games,CL,EL). Even machines break down when THRASHED!

  4. Most would never happen for commercial reasons.

    The ones that SHOULD be introduced:

    1) The clock stops when the ball is out of play or during injuries
    We all get 90 minutes ACTUAL football and the time wasting teams are nullified

    2) Retrospective red cards and bans

    3) Right to Appeal
    Whether the referee saw the decision or not. They get too many wrong

    3) Video referees
    Instant review of all red card decisions without need for appeal
    Managers appeal – Replay on the big screen (for excitement) and get the correct decision from the 4th official.
    This makes for transparency as we fans can see clearly see fairness and takes away the issues with biased referees.

    Referees miked up to explain key decisions like penalty’s and red cards.

    4) Published referee league table
    All games in the PL independently reviewed by a panel of ex players and referees.
    Creates transparency and accountability.
    Referee has a stinker he gets interviewed to explain

    5) A ban on holding in the penalty area – instant penalty.

    6) All players caught diving retrospectively are given a three game ban.


    1. Numbers on shirt to represent position – please no more number 52’s this isn’t American Football!!

  5. And we must all be told before the season starts the following:


  6. @proudkev
    November 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    🙂 🙂 I dare say we know who most of them support, but would be great for them to come out and say so 😉

    “4) Published referee league table
    All games in the PL independently reviewed by a panel of ex players and referees.
    Creates transparency and accountability.
    Referee has a stinker he gets interviewed to explain” = Exactly!!!

  7. I also don’t like the double points idea, it all depends on the randomness of the draw. For example, if two teams are competing for the title, one might be playing against a top team, and another against a weak team. Why tilt the matches in the favour of one team just because of a random draw? We may even see some ‘fiddling’ with the draw for the fixtures. All games should be given equal weight.

    As for no.12, a moving ball means more goals, so that won’t change.

    For no.14, what if the free kick is already on the edge of the box? If you advance 10m then the freekick would be 6.5m away from goal. And if the dissent continues, than what? A penalty goal?

    And bring back ‘linesman’, none of this ‘assistant ref’ bollocks.

    Also, the loan system needs to be looked at, it’s also being distorted by clubs like Chelsea.

    Of the four points the FA are considering, two of them are pure xenophobia. If they want to improve English football, do the right thing and improve youth coaching, rather than going the easy, populist route and targeting foreigners. The only thing those restrictions will do is make British player even more expensive than they already are.

  8. I like many of them,but the one i like most is a table for refs,when u r down the table u should not be allowed to officiate games involving top of the table teams so as not to decide the league with their incompetence.

  9. Off topic….tony and walter…can u please do a review of Arsene Wenger’s defenders since he took over as manager,the ones he signed and promoted.He is a wonderful Manager but i think defending is a flaw in his managerial career at Arsenal it seems he gets everything else right except defenders…dont know why…i might be wrong thats why i asked if u can help make it clearer for me.thanx

  10. @proudkev,
    The football team that each ref supports.

    And what are we going to do about the following Man U fans: Greg Dyke (FA, was non-exec director for Man U), David Gill (UEFA, currently is a non-exec director for Man U), Mike Riley (’nuff said).

  11. Quincy,

    I suspect as man Utd are the most followed team in the UK, it stands to reason they will have a higher percentage of ‘fans’ in key positions.

  12. Quincy…..I don’t necessarily support all points in my article and agree that double points at the end of the season is far too easy to manipulate in some clubs’ favour.

    Point 12 is really meant to assist attackers when heading the ball. The old ball didn’t swerve and curve as much as the new ones do so maybe that would improve the likelihood of a player heading it more accurately? It would be interesting if someone could analyze the number of headed goals before and after the introduction of the swervy balls….so to speak!

    Point 14 assumes it is outside the box, Or is an indirect free kick inside the box. If the dissent continues then only a caution or ejection would occur….but I like the idea of a dissent goal….rooney would have about 25 own goals to his credit if this rule were enforced as is!!!!

    The Laws state that the people running the line and the 4th official must be (and always are) fully certified referees as well because all of them have to be capable of taking over from the referee in an emergency….that is why they are now called assistants. I myself prefer the linesman appellation.

    Agreed about the FA ideas….but that’s Greg Dyke’s baby and it comes as no surprise….Goddamn those greasy foreigners!!!

  13. A very important change to the Laws – Player shielding the ball is deemed to have touched the ball particularly when letting the ball pass the goal line to get a goal kick.

  14. Allocation of match officials by draw on weekly basis. All officials must have equal chance of each position – referee, assistant or 4th official. All official radios must be available on live broadcast to fans during match.

  15. As regards bias – Sky/News International had shareholdings in some PL teams. They should not have monopoly of broadcast or video replay in matches.

  16. Just a quick one – and i know it will never happen

    It is a little radical, but, i think that we should have 4 quarters of 25 minutes (therefore 100 minutes in total), with 10 or 15 minute breaks in between.

    This would make the game better commercially for adverts, would hopefully make the game more intensive, with more energy and attacking, and would also create better value for money.

    On another point: I dont think all games should be played at 3pm though – i think staggering them is better, as you can watch games throughout the day, and have more choice of what to watch.

  17. I think point 3 should be followed for obvious injury, which is probably meant in the write up. But, if the person suffering the foul has a compound fracture of the leg, I see no reason why the player that did this should again play that game. With Arsenal, it is certainly possible that the referee may not have issued a card for the leg breaking foul. A problem could happen if multiple players are contacting the player injured at the time.

    One I had mentioned to Walter long ago, a team only gets points if they score goals. This only effects 0-0 results (nobody gets points).

  18. “It is a little radical, but, i think that we should have 4 quarters of 25 minutes”

    we can also put a net across the centre line and if the keeper manages to pass the net with a free kick and it bounces in opposition half without anyone touching you get a point. 5 points and its a goal.

    also we use to do this as 3 consecutive corners you win a penalty

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