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June 2021

Where do we draw the line?

By Menace

What difference does half an inch make? Some say size does not matter but when a ball bounces off the inside of a goal post & does not end up in the net it makes millions of pounds difference. The half an inch in size of goal post (cross bar to ground- not turf tip) can make so much difference.

Yet the ball size & pressure, the stud size & type, the net and corner flags are all checked by the match officials. It is the duty of the match officials to check the goalposts and in a game that is worth more than many 3rd world GDPs (Gross Domestic Product), very little has been done to ensure consistent measurement. The deviant airborne ball is a matter of human judgement and we have to accept the official’s decision with little or no grounds for appeal.

However, back to the goal posts, crossbar & the material & shape. The goal post if square will have a 4 or 5 inch surface for the ball to hit/pass whereas a round post will have less than millimetre to hit/pass & can therefore have a different trajectory. The bounce off a round post is different to that from the corner of a square post. The material used for goal posts also makes a difference. It is time for the Associations and the Professional bodies to standardise the infrastructure and items used in the professional game.

The Laws have been interpreted differently so many times recently, that there is need for stricter, more definite instruction to officials as to what is considered to be correct.

The corner for example should define ‘inside the quadrant’ for a corner kick (meaning all of the ball inside the quadrant). The goal kick also has been allowed to become a tool for time wasting with the position of the ball variable to on the line almost out of the goal area where ever the Goal keeper wants to play the ball from.

Markings in the goal area like the penalty spot are also an area of contention. In the recent play off for the Premier League, there was a penalty that was interfered with by the referee because the ball was not spotted to his liking. I thought the ball was over the spot but not on it. The re-spotted ball resulted in a miss over the top of the goal and might have been responsible for the resultant loss of £170 million.

It is small margins that deviate life times. A couple of penalties at Southampton resulted in skids by the taker because the surface is loose. These infrastructure differences must be managed and penalised for inconsistency. The penalty spot is crucial (perhaps not as much for Arsenal as we don’t get our fair share) for some matches & again could make the difference between staying up or relegation.

The physical width of the lines used to mark the field make it a farce from ground to ground particularly where some other type of match had been played recently. The size of the field of play varies (covered by the Laws) from ground to ground and makes a difference in the style of play. A full size ground like Wembley and the Ems saps more energy from players (worse still if the grass is long). Furthermore, the surface also has an impact. These new part grass part artificial turf surfaces have bounce that is different from a fully turfed ground.

The following are some ideas that might make the game more entertaining.

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The shielding of the ball is also another anomaly in the game as there is contact between players without contact with the ball (which according to the Laws is a foul). The Laws should only allow shielding of the ball after it is played. That does not mean a dummy (or feint) should be called a foul, but the shielding of the ball en route off the field of play must be called foul if there is player contact. It will deter players from allowing yet another form of time wasting, & enhance the excitement close to the goal.

The throw in is another area of time wasting that galls. The ball is handed from player to player until a suitable amount of time has passed or one is willing to throw it back into play. The first or nearest player to the ball must take the throw in within 30 seconds. It will ensure time is not wasted & will bring a new level of excitement, because every throw in will be different.

The moving away from the ball after a foul is awarded is another area of contention. Players must move the requisite 10 yards or more within 10 seconds & the ball must be played within 30 seconds. It is an area that needs to be properly managed & penalised. The use of magic spray & wall construction is allowing further time wasting (time that has been paid for by the supporter).

These systems will bring along several penalties, so a sin bin will be the most appropriate method of managing the game. The large TV screens can display the count down clocks so that all can see & react.

The infrastructure of the game has not been addressed in recent years. It will take a serious injury or another death before safety issues are addressed. I, via Untold, had addressed the perimeter of the field of play according to the Laws but there is insufficient safety being addressed by the stakeholders of the game. Concrete pits & electrical advertising hoardings are death traps if not properly cushioned & insulated. The Health & Safety Executive have accepted very little responsibility for sporting venues. They have left the responsibility to local authorities that probably have enough problems with policing & crowd control.

The Laws cover the physical push but the interpretation varies and to Arsenal’s cost twice in recent seasons. In both cases within clear visibility of the officials. The officials and their decisions are a matter of tempered discussion most of which draws a measured abuse. I will not be discussing the officials in this post.

The players however, are paid almost obscene amounts of money to play the game. They should accordingly, have a good if not expert understanding of the Laws of the Game. It is after all their profession. Every club should have as part of their training schedule a succession of events covering the Laws & the changes & interpretation by the local officials. This should ensure the players and officials do not argue or show dissent or animosity toward each other. It will also ensure the younger generation begin to learn discipline from their idols.

It is a thin line that costs millions and affects futures.

And elsewhere…

14 comments to Where do we draw the line?

  • Goonermikey

    A couple of observations:

    Firstly, whilst teaching players the rules, could we find a few places on the training course for ex-players and commentators who are equally ignorant.

    Secondly, I accept your chosen topics requiring rule changes but in many cases, this can be overcome by giving the fourth official a stop watch. When the balls in play the timer is running when the ball is dead it is stopped. 30 minutes each way. Sorted.

  • Gord

    Unexpected topic there Menace. Or at least parts of it are.

    I don’t know that a circular cross section is the best, but I certainly don’t like the idea of sharp corners on square or rectangular tubing. Lots of people/organizations/countries could not afford to get whatever is designated as preferred, but leagues such as the EPL could certainly mandate something.

    Lots of things are made out of steel, simply because they have always been made out of steel. I think many mechanical engineers would prefer that we have steel toilet paper, because we have so much experience at designing with (this lousy) steel.

    I will suggest that goal posts are probably best made from a glass fibre (or flax fibre) reinforced polymer composite, covered with a medium durometer polyurethane rubber that is somewhere in the 3-6mm range in thickness. There is a potential problem area, that being where the upright meets the cross bar. It may be that a surface treatment to make it low friction may also be needed.

    But, the PU rubber surface will provide some give, to try and minimize damage in bone to goal post impacts.

    As outlined, this goal post will not suffer from corrosion. The PU rubber can be something which is not affected by ultraviolet, and it will shield the glass/polymer pultrusion from UV exposure. Being composed of non-conductive materials, it isn’t likely to attract lightning.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice one Menace, but when I read the first sentence I thought there was a story coming about the actress and the bishop!

    But you are right – conformity and consistency is important.

    I just returned home a few minutes ago to see the news confirmed that AW has signed his contract for another two years (at least) – excellent news. But already Sky is giving a lot of air time to the whingers! Fake News!!

  • Gord


    Zinc oxide has long been used in athletic tape to promote anti-allergenic properties. Some zinc oxides are used in applications involving UV exposure (as are some titanium oxides).

    Perhaps mixing up a zinc oxide based pigment with a drying oil based on a vegetable source would work for lines? There is a fire hazard in working with drying oils, mostly in terms of rags used at cleanup. But this should allow the line to “bind” to the “grass”, and still be biodegradable and not incite allergic reactions.

  • Gord

    Another line form the Irish Examiner
    > Arsenal fans split down the middle as Arsene Wenger bags a new …

    I really, really doubt, that the “split” is at either the median or the average. It is probably “in the middle” in the same sense that the 3 percentile point or the 91 percentile point are “in the middle”.

    Stupid, useless medja.

  • luscious lisa

    Interesting. But could more precision and more rules be counter-productive? To a certain extent, the more football is a free for all, the more it should flow, as it did in the Eton Wall Game. Would it be better to find ways to reduce the need for referee intervention rather than increase it?
    Whatever the rules/laws, there will always be gamesmanship, or cheating if you prefer. What about a simple law where gamesmanship in all its forms can be punished by a sin-bin. If a player knew that he could be sin-binned for a minor infringement, or an accumulation of infringements, even though those infringements had gone unpunished, then the game might flow better; i.e., the referee could let minor infringements or acts of gamesmanship pass in the interests of keeping play flowing, but then sin bin a player, or perhaps the captain if he deemed the gamesmanship was organised, after an accumulation of otherwise unpunished offences.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice one , Menace . I agree with your suggestions . I can never understand why the ball is placed at the furthest point of the arc during corners .
    Is there an advantage there that I am missing ?

    I’d like the players to play the game fairly and with class. Stop the cheating and theatricals . Take pride in your profession.

    But most of all , I’d love to see fair refereeing . This last season was atrocious . I truly cannot praise any referee for a game well officiated.

    Maybe Riley needs an advicer ? To replace the one who has his ears now ?

  • Chris

    Nice ideas menace,

    may I suggest one that has been talked about before, yet, still, why not push…

    If players other than the captain go to the ref to ‘argue’ about one of his calls the captain gets a yellow card.
    Same if players ‘assemble’ around the ref.

    The same ought to apply for any player who ‘signals’ any fault from the opposition :raising a hand when a ball goes out or a pseudo offsied occurs, etc.
    These behaviours do have an influence on refs and ought to be punished.

  • Oldham Gooner

    I wonder if, 50 years from now, whether the future FA would ever implement these kind of changes? What would a fair and effective FA do for the game?

    Food for thought after a good read, nice one Menace ^_^

  • para

    The main one for me is that pitches should all have to be the same size.
    I find it stupid that pitches are different sizes.

    Second, a foul should be a foul regardless of “intent”, that intent that the commentators seem to be able to “mind read” straight from the players head.

    Lastly, there should be no need for a ref to make a personal decision as they all seem to make different decisions for the same incident.

    All rules should become absolute and should be punished when broken, only this will bring the fairness that is required, and will stop the appeals needing to be made after the game.

    Everyone will know that it does not matter if it was a mistake, if studs are showing or not, if it was retaliation(both players should be punished) etc. and start to play the game accordingly.

  • omgarsenal

    The Laws ,in their most recent iteration, were written with world Football in mind. FIFA, in one of their brighter moments, realized that not every country or continent or association had the means to offer the best conditions for football and decided, wisely in retrospect, to allow considerable variance based on age,gender, level of competition, availability of land, etc.
    There are pressing changes needed in Football,and particularly at the professional level. Time management is one, video aids for the officials is another, ridding the game of cheaters and of simulation, bringing true democracy to FIFA and EUFA another. Some good ideas Menace…..we’ll have to do a complete review of the Laws and the IFAB clarifications one day!

  • Menace

    Sorry Untold system has been melting my comments into the ether.

  • Menace

    Some of the areas that must not be taken into the foul arena are the claiming with the hands up. It is not a foul to try to win a 50/50 call. It does not waste time nor does it cause injury.

    The areas I feel need addressing are actions that might cause injury, actions that result in time wasting & obvious cheating that is ultimately unsporting.

  • Menace

    Brickfields – the reason the ball is placed furthest on the arc from the corner flag is because 6 inches matters to some! These are professionals who have to kick a ball 20 to 40 yards, but taking 6 inches make them ‘bigger’. Size matters!!

    I’m sure if there was a price (£1000 to charity) on the inch, the ball would be placed in the quadrant.