Progress, Progress, Blind Progress.
I have been watching the Beautiful Game for more than 60 years and in that time there has been a lot of change. The players are fitter. The clothing they wear is high tech. Their boots are multicoloured light ‘sandals’ with blades rather than studs. Their incomes are bordering on the obscene. Their position is less sporting and more celebrity. The stadia cater for almost all the dreams of a football fan but costs a huge multiple of what I paid at the turnstile in the ’60s.
The clubs have now catered for all levels of support and may have left some poorer fans outside the arenas and others outside the game itself. The Televison companies have been making a fortune on broadcasting football and in turn paying huge sums for the priviledge. Everything that is broadcast has been milked for all its worth. The Stadium naming rights, the advertising on shirts and on shorts, stockings and slippers. The advertising around the ground inside the stadia and surrounding the pitch. It is a totally commercially driven enterprise.
The many streams of income into the football club are gradually being exploited. The initial area that has grown is the corporate boxes and their associated use of the stadia for sales meetings and product launches that have created additional income streams for the clubs. The Club level for those supporters or commercially aware fans who can afford more than just the costs of seeing football with a snack. The use of stadia for concerts and for television programmes like X Factor, where several thousand fans need to experience several hundred auditions. The catering on each level has been contracted out creating a fixed income for a captivated audience.
The aspects of progress that have directly impacted the Laws of the game need to be addressed and viewed carefully. Some of this might be viewed from my own bias and may create argument but that is the purpose of this article. It is to improve the game even if it means changes to some of the Laws or better still to rein in the blind progress.
Law 1 – The Field of Play. I will not detail the law but the area that needs discussion is the safety of players. The law is further detailed by Decisions of the International FA Board. The decisions cover the field of play and use of Goal Line Technology cameras within it (specifically on the goal posts). There is some coverage of advertising on equipment and clothing in the Field of Play.
However, the detail about the area surrounding the Field of Play is limited to commercial advertising must be a minimum of 1 yard from the boundary edge of the Field of Play and minimum 1 yard from the edge of the line of the goal net. The physical size and standards of the advertising hoardings has not been stipulated nor has the type of advertising. The Laws do not cover this rapid change in technology.
I am concerned with the type of advertising particularly high tech moving picture close to the Field of Play. These are electric and may be electrically unsafe particularly in rain or lightening storms. The flashing images may affect epilepsy sufferers and also divert player focus causing injury. The brightness of the advertising may have adverse effects on some players. These must be ‘still’ or switched off during play. I found some of the colours extremely bright and it impeded my view of the players on the field of Play. I cannot forget the Debuchy damaged shoulder when pushed by Marko Arnautovic into the hoardings. These aspects seem to have dodged the IFAB meetings.
Law 2 – The Ball. Once again I will not detail this Law save to say IFAB have allowed the use of chips to allow for Goal Line Technology. The colour of the ball needs to be clarified and mentioned in the Laws, otherwise there may be some unacceptably bright change.
Law 3 – The Number of Players. The only aspect that draws my attention under this Law, is Restart of Play. If play is stopped by the referee to administer a caution:
- The match is restarted by an indirect free kick, to be taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was located when play was stopped.
This is exactly what I would expect to happen when a Goalkeeper time wastes.
Law 4 – The Players Equipment. No detail here either but Safety – A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery). This Law also covered the type/state of studs on the boots. The introduction of blades (longer, not deeper studs) on the boots in my view are a safety risk. In my youth the studs were nailed on leather and the linesman would ensure that nails were not protruding from worn leather.
The use of ‘footwear’ to cover boots is insufficient in my opinion and I would like to see the colour of boots to be standard within a team. This Law covers colour but somewhere it appears to have got lost from control of footwear.
Law 17 – The Corner Kick. This is one part of the game that referees and/or their assistants seem to have become stupid. The Law is clear and the procedure states:
- The ball must be placed inside the corner arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the goal line.
It is clear ‘inside the corner arc’ . In my view all of the ball must be inside.
Over to you Walter.
- 9 September 1893: Arsenal’s first defeat in the league: Notts County 3 Woolwich Arsenal 2. Elliot and Shaw scored Arsenal’s goals making it one draw and one defeat in the opening two matches.
- 9 September 1911: First game for George Grant. His career incorporated Woolwich Arsenal, The Arsenal and Arsenal, ending with the cessation of football for the first world war. In all he made 57 appearances and scored four goals.
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying