Let’s start off with a statement of the obvious – football is great. Right, that’s that over with. But however great it may be, there are always things that could be better. So as we celebrate the start of the season, fuelled by Sky Sports adverts and reminiscing about the good old days of penny tickets and rivers of urine flowing down the terraces, here’s a few things I dream of seeing to make the sport we love that little bit better in the coming years. None of it will never happen.
First off, ban Monday night football. Sky think we all love Monday night football. I recall Richard Key’s excitement when it made a triumphant ticker-tape return a few years ago. His instructions were clear. Get the bunting out and dust off that bottle of Asti Spumante you’d been saving for a special occasion, because this was the news we had all been waiting for. MNF is great if you are at home on the most boring night of the week, but for match-going fans it is utter rubbish. Any team’s season-opener on a Monday night instantly kills the buzz of the opening weekend. Thanks for nothing Rupert Murdoch.
Football games should only be played on a Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (except for Tranmere, who can play on a Friday).
Video technology. No in-depth analysis here, as you will already be bored senseless by the debate. The average football game only has about 60 minutes of play – to claim it will slow down games is nonsense. The FIFA viewpoint that if it is not available to everyone then no one can have it seems ridiculous to me. Better some have an advantage than no one – it is 2013, not 1970 – and the world’s biggest, most popular game is one of the few sports still stuck in the dark ages. The whole technology might not work, I accept that – but that’s what trials are for. At least the ball is rolling on this now, with the introduction of goal-line technology.
Get rid of the rule that an injured player has to go off the pitch – it was introduced in good faith, hoping to eradicate the feigning of injuries. It hasn’t, and it punishes genuinely injured players. It is stupid, pointless, and annoying.
Speaking of which, allow players to be treated on pitch while play continues, like they do in rugby. Should lead to a good bloopers video, if nothing else.
Whilst we’re at it, get rid of the equally stupid rule of a yellow card for taking your shirt off. Unless there’s a pointless message on a white T-shirt below. Then it’s a straight red card, especially if they are thanking a deity.
No one who is a club chairman or even on a club board should have a position of influence at the FA. Impartial? David Gill was at the Etihad watching Manchester City v Manchester United the other season wearing a United club tie.
When the season starts, the transfer window closes. How it is allowed to drag into the season is beyond me, and it not only creates tedious sagas like that of Wayne Rooney playing against Chelsea a few years back when seemingly on the verge of crossing the divide, but it also leads to an uneven playing field.
Ban all player interviews, on camera and in print. They are undoubtedly boring, and will be misquoted to gain a story anyway. I can live without hearing Wayne Rooney tell us how he is over the moon, and just stuck it in the onion bag, ya know? I really could not care one iota whether Patrice Evra thinks Samir Nasri would be a good signing, or have the slightest interest in David Beckham commenting on how Ferguson should get Wesley Sneijder, or about anything he has said, ever. This is not news. Save it for the ghost-written autobiography.
No substitutions should be allowed in injury time (unless replacing a player unconscious on a stretcher).
Ban all goal music. Punishment for clubs that flout this rule should be similar to those that go into administration.
Change the red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity that also results in a penalty – it is totally unfair to dispense a double punishment, especially if for a genuine attempt to make a tackle – a red card and a penalty seem too harsh a punishment for the defending team, though I should add I am not sure what the solution is.
Sin bins – trial them for acts of dissent. I am probably in the minority here, but I have always liked the idea of sin bins. I don’t think referees will ever have the nerve to show yellow cards for every act of dissent, as it will decimate the number of players on the pitch (at least for a short while). But sin bins provide an alternative, as 10 minutes a man down should hopefully force the players to keep their mouth shut (eventually).
A proper “Fit and Proper” test. Make it live up to its name – if you want to buy a football club, there must be assurances about financial security, plans for the club, and rules in place to prevent the selling off of assets.
More money to trickle down to the lower leagues, grass roots football, and for hiring greater number of coaches in this country. Secure the future of institutions such as the Football Supporters Federation by using some of this money rather than have its survival rely on the whim of Peter Scudamore and a few of his cronies.
But – get rid of the ridiculous levels of money swimming around the Champions League that has turned it into a cartel that preserves the power of the status quo, and make it a straight knock out too, so that we are rid of all the dreary and fairly predictable group stages. At the very least remove the back-up of 3rd place teams falling into the Europa League. Of course there is more chance of me being trapped on a bus with Sandra Bullock that will explode if it goes under a certain speed, but ultimately I end up being saved due to the bravery and cunning of Keanu Reeves.
Cheaper tickets, obviously.
A return to terraces, obviously.
Real ale at the Etihad.
I think that’s 18 rules. Sorry.