Progress, Progress, Blind Progress.

Progress, Progress, Blind Progress.

By Menace

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.


More anniversaries…

  • 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.

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18 Replies to “Progress, Progress, Blind Progress.”

  1. Menace,

    Just a slight clarification on the Law 17 – The Corner Kick, on the Page 138 of the “Laws of the Game 2015/2016 FIFA” it is shown with an image that the ball can be placed anywhere on the corner arc or inside the arc.

  2. Menace,

    Good point re goalkeeper’s time wasting an indirect free kick inside the offender’s penalty area should eliminate that use of what would amount to be a professional foul anywhere else on the field.

  3. “A totally commercially driven exercise”.
    What an indictment of the once sporting activity.
    Menace, you are of course, quite right.
    The professional game is now big business with all the sharp practise
    and chicanery that implies.
    There is now little time for pure football. Players are finely tuned sportsmen rather like top racehorses. Niggling injuries crop up without warning….some during the warm-up before games.
    Medical staff are trained in pain relief in order to prolong playing time at crucial times of the season.
    Global commercial television with its advertising (a licence to print money)is, in my view, the direct cause of escalating footballers’ wages to a quite obscene level, together with the blatant exploitation of the captive attenders at football grounds.
    This situation will continue, I’m afraid, unless or until steps are taken to return football to more of a sporting base. It may take decades with involvement perhaps by world governments in order to return to sanity. One thing is certain, however. The present escalating situation cannot continue unheeded.

  4. I like the indirect free kick idea too. And that is a situation just dying to be a quickly taken kick, a pass to another attacker to score. Which means the defenders are going to be almost forced to get carded in order to get enough bodies back in time to defend against the free kick. Stand on the ball, ignore the referee asking for distance. Throw the ball out of bounds and hope the fans take their time getting the ball back.

    Have a good week people. Good luck on the game against Stoke on Saturday. Someone go visit those burger shops (on Exeter?) and tell us how the food is. 🙂

  5. Usama Zaka – thank you for the clarification. It is this additional information that dissolves the Laws. The Law states ‘inside the arc’ the clarification shows the ball on the line of the arc, the players leave a sliver of ball overhanging the line of the arc. Some officials will allow an inch, some will not. When the ball is placed outside the arc it is INCORRECT as per the diagram & the Law itself.

    It is where the ‘foul’ gets its freedom to break bones ‘by mistake’ or ‘mistimed tackle’. There should be no soft interpretation of Laws. It allows for financial exploitation. Laws should be reasonably rigid. Where a Law needs more than a page to clarify it clearly shows the Law is not sufficiently simple. Simple Laws ensure no room for corrupt practice.

  6. Good points, Menace. The odd thing is those concerned with running football bring/allow all these changes to football, yet they’ll not introduce the one change that’ll actually make a difference and make the sport better for all; video refereeing.

  7. A most interesting article.

    Re the studs/blades – I have wondered about the blades, having noted quite a few players slipping on what appeared to be a reasonably good surface. Obviously someone thinks blades are “better” than studs, but do they really provide adequate grip?

    Re the safety aspects of the blades, is it possible to to give some more details on the concerns? – I have no experience of them, like you I played in leather studs.

    Thanks for a good article.

  8. bjtgooner – I would suggest the best place to check out the ‘footwear’ is a sports shop. You can then really get an understanding of the light boot & either molded sole or screw on studs/blades. The balls are a lot better waterproofed than in my day. The ball in the old days would get heavier on wet days and were like wet buckets to head.

  9. I find myself withdrawing slowly from many things i used to enjoy, mainly because these things, like football, have become something else. Changing from a natural thing to something synthetic football has become one of these things and is slowly providing a sort of sterile packaged entertainment, much like the so called “live” programs on TV.

    ” It may take decades with involvement perhaps by world governments in order to return to sanity.”

    I have long since lost any love (i may have once had) for governments much less the incoming world government, all meant to be a people controlled thing, but now heavily infiltrated by those who say people cannot “govern” themselves.

  10. In the 1930s’ when I was in my prime (LOL), I spent much of the time on the field when the play was nowhere near me, checking that all my studs were still in situ. Even then there was a danger a stud nail could penetrate the sole of the boot and into your foot. Particularly at the start of a season when the pitches were dry and hard.

  11. Menace

    A very good write-up!!!

    I remember wearing football boots with wooden studs that were actually nailed in!! When the boots started to age the nails came through into the inner soul 🙂 🙂 As far our usual football; after about a month of kicking around, the ball turned into an egg shape thing!!

    HighTech is becoming Law…and look forward to video ref!!

  12. nicky/apo
    Those old leather footballs weighed a ton when they got wet didn’t they, you could barely kick the thing more than a few yards, and to get it airborn and into the penalty area from a corner kick was almost impossible. And bugger me didn’t it hurt when you caught the laces on your forehead when heading the ball.
    Ahhhh the smell of dubbin and white horse oils in the corrugated iron dressing rooms!

  13. Mick

    “Ahhhh the smell of dubbin and white horse oils in the corrugated iron dressing rooms!”

    hahahaha yes that smell 🙂

  14. @Mick,
    Talking about the heavy ball when wet, reminds me of the story concerning Eddie Hapgood the pre-WW2 Arsenal and England left back and captain.
    When he signed for Arsenal in the 30’s it was discovered that when he headed a wet ball, he often knocked himself unconscious. He was a vegetarian and was ordered to change his ways. Becoming a meat eater solved the problem!

  15. @nicky
    Great story.
    It would be interesting to see how Messi, Ronaldo, Henry etc would have performed had they had to endure the boots, balls and mud bath pitches the old players had to contend with.
    And the other way round of course, how would the stars of yesteryear have performed today.

  16. All you old geezers like me do you remember Cliff Holton, he had the hardest shot I have ever seen, how he would have enjoyed playing with the modern balls! They would have gone into orbit! How did he generate so much power with those old leather balls. A bit here about Cliff….

  17. Mick – many of today’s stars would have shone in the old days too. They would not have been on the field for long though, because they would have been kicked. Yesterdays stars would probably be just as good if not better than before. They were stronger perhaps not fitter but certainly skillful. Most of them came from poor backgrounds & learned to play with poor footwear or bear feet. They developed touch & technique naturally.

    In those days if you didn’t watch the ball when heading it you would more than likely get concussed. In fact you probably got concussed anyway!! 😉 .

  18. Menace- Thanks for the article and points for discussion. I’d just like to add my own bit of nostalgia. My first experience of playing “proper football” was in about 1949 when our school games lesson would take place on Ruislip Town ground. After walking the mile or so to the ground, we would first have to clear the pitch of cow-pats made by the “residents” when the ground was not being used for football. Afterwards, we would walk the 2 miles home looking forward to a nice hot bath. Actually, I don’t think I’d want those days back.

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