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Five changes to dramatically improve English football

Each summer offers up the chance for English football to reset, to identify its flaws and failings and reconfigure itself for the better. It’s a shame therefore that so often this opportunity is wasted.

That’s not the case this time out however, not with the introduction of the five subs rule being implemented in 2022/23 and even if the new ruling is divisive, it is greatly encouraging that in a post-pandemic world, football is willing to bend and adapt.

Why stop there though? With the Premier League 30 years old this August now is as good a time as any to refresh, to commit to a set of revisions that will make the beautiful game looking its very best once again. Starting with these five ideas…

Clamp down on time-wasting

So routinely these days we see an away keeper blatantly waste time from the get-go, to the exasperation of the home crowd who bay for the referee to do something. Which he does, if you consider having a quiet word with the team captain just before half time, then finally booking the dawdling keeper in the 87th minute as doing anything of substance. 

We asked on Twitter for your footballing bug-bears and time wasting – particularly from goalkeepers – was an outright winner, and what really infuriates is that it is a misdemeanour so easily resolved.

Next season, when a keeper changes which side of the six-yard box he takes a kick from, and fusses endlessly with his studs, a warning should be given. If he does it again, he should be booked, even if we are early into a game. On the next occasion, he is shown a second yellow. 

Hey presto, one of football’s worst blights will be gone forever. 

Have a stop-clock and halves reduced to 30 minutes

The basketball system of displaying a clock that halts for stoppages has long been mooted and is ever-more necessary with time wasting on the rise and the amount of time the ball is in play diminishing season on season. 

Reducing the game-time to an hour meanwhile makes perfect sense given that this is the average amount of actual football we witness per match anyway.

If all this sounds a bit radical, it’s worth noting that trials are presently underway in Portugal.  

Make VAR decisions assessable to all

Like it or loathe it, VAR is here to stay but that absolutely doesn’t mean we should accept its present incarnation that is riddled with flaws.

Namely, that supporters in the ground are left completely in the dark as to what is happening when a check is announced.

There are a number of different ways the comms can be relayed to fans, from miking up refs to providing considerably more information on the big screen beyond the basics we’re currently afforded. We deserve much better. 

Offside decisions on feet only 

It is nothing short of a farce when a player is deemed offside by an armpit hair and when lengthy discussions are had about sleeve-lines we know we’re well and truly through the looking glass. 

The offside rule needs simplifying and taking kneecaps, shoulders, and upper chests out of the equation and focusing solely on an attacking player’s feet is surely the way forward. 

In 1990 changes were introduced to favour the attacker. Why have we since veered so far from this into sheer lunacy? 

Scrap extra-time in cup games

Some awful tosh is spoken of penalty shoot-outs. They’re ‘cruel’ and nobody likes to see a team lose that way. At least that’s what commentators would have us believe.

Whereas in actuality we all love the heightened drama and indeed love it so much that we spend the entirety of extra-time desperately hoping neither side scores to deny us of the thrill. 

Why not then, dispense with extra-time altogether? It’s not as if anything typically happens in those thirty added-on minutes, besides players getting more and more exhausted and more and more cautious. Nine times out of ten, they’re a drudge-fest.

Football, in its purest form, is entertainment and extra-time is anything but entertaining. 

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