Rule changes that could be introduced to football
Sky Sports recently conducted a poll as part of Support the Ref week, allowing members of the public to vote on what changes they would like introduced to football. As well as looking at the suggestions and outcome, we evaluate the merits of each potential new rule.
13 possible rule changes
13th - 70-minute games
Football and 90 go hand in hand. However, thinking practically, shortening the length of matches makes sense. Research compiled by Socermetrics from the 2010-11 Premier League season shows the average effective time (ball in play) was only 55 minutes and 6 seconds per game. So having 20 fewer minutes, while also stopping the clock for interruptions, is a plan to consider.
12th - Scrap the offside rule
A proposal which hit the news when Dutch legend Marco van Basten brought it to the fore. No offside rule? It sounds like madness and would completely alter the game's dynamics (fellow writer Martin Palazzotto debates the pros and cons in his piece). Although most new ideas are worth considering due to football's need to evolve, this one can wait as it's not a major concern.
11th - Time-outs
Time-outs are synonymous with sports from the United States, including American football, baseball, and basketball. Meanwhile, football teams and managers are given at least a few days to prepare for games. They then have half-times to make further tactical adjustments. The negative of constant stoppages far outweigh any benefits time-outs will bring.
10th - Rolling subs
Or as they're called in rugby: interchanges. If a player suffers a knock, instead of being substituted they can return at a later stage in the contest. Also, with seven rolling subs managing fatigue becomes easier, which could result in better performance. This particular change would be confusing initially, but it will ensure players on a squad's fringes receive more game time.
9th - Ten-yard advances
Another idea that's already implemented in rugby; a sport in which respect toward referees far exceeds that witnessed in football. Moving the ball forwards ten yards after decisions are contested is a step in the right direction. It would encourage players to accept the ref's ruling. Just ten yards, though? Maybe the new rule ought to be more drastic in order to better emphasise the point being made.
8th - Sin bins for players
Were these suggestions put together by glancing through the rugby law-book? Yet another of its rules make the list. However, this one has merit. It's often debated, was it a red or yellow card offence. The verdict sometimes falls in between, so a different coloured card would solve that problem. A green one to indicate ten minutes in the sin bin - football would benefit.
7th - Zero tolerance for dissent
The definition of dissent: ‘the offence of expressing disagreement with the referee's decision.' While intimidation, physical contact, and extremely foul language should all be red card offences, it's a harsh punishment for simply questioning the ref's verdict. Although the sport must adopt a strong approach to stop the hounding of officials, some common sense is still required.
6th - Officials working in the same teams
Would having the same referee, two assistants, and fourth official every week improve consistency, or make any difference at all? Granted, familiarity can prove useful, but it shouldn't be important for people at the top of their profession. Mistakes will always occur. However, in case you aren't aware, refs already make the correct call 98% of the time.
5th - Video technology referrals
We once again return to one of rugby's main features. Don't worry, number one on this list isn't to change the shape of the ball. In all seriousness, this law should have already been applied. Some argue that the interruptions would slow the game down to the point of detracting from enjoyment. Well, it won't as much as what watching 11 players berate the man with the whistle for 2-3 minutes does.
4th - Recording conversations with referees
This is good for knowing what officials are thinking in certain moments, but not so good if children are watching and overhear players' foul-mouthed rants. Until refs are given more respect, it's best not to implement this idea or else football may have to start taking place after the watershed. Anyway, refereeing mistakes are unintentional; players are never asked to explain missing an open goal.
3rd - Celebrate as you wish
This is a fairly simple one. Players should have permission to celebrate without the risk of receiving a caution. After going through all the possible rule changes which are yet to take effect, it raises the question as to why football's governing bodies decided to penalise players for taking off shirts or celebrating with own supporters. Possibly, they are all just inept at their jobs
2nd - Captains only
Most teams believe they possess the right to constantly harangue officials when things go against. If only the captain contests a decision, refs are usually more inclined to explain the situation, instead of feeling intimidated by a bunch of angry men. If this rule was enforced, players would stop feeling entitled to remonstrate. It will also help prevent a shortage of referees.
1st - Retrospective punishment for diving
Diving needs stamping out as currently the age-old adage, ‘cheats never prosper', doesn't ring true in football. Retrospective punishment for simulation will help put an end to the problem. However, while it needs addressing, it shouldn't be number one on the list. Several other proposals remain a higher priority. Cheating is bad, but it's not as bad as abusing officials.