Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If I Ran Football (2) - The Media

I'm never going to run the media, and be in a position to tell them how to act. By God, if only I could. But I can't. All I can say is that I gave up buying newspapers a long time ago and I'm getting increasingly bored with radio and TV coverage of football. Here's why and here's what you would have to do to bring me back.

Four words : STOP PANDERING TO IDIOTS. It's quite tempting just to leave it there. If I start on the details I might never stop. I'll try to keep the rest brief.

- Be truthful and objective. If you want to call out foreign players for diving, call out British players when they do it too. If a game is shit, don't say it's "combative". Say it's shit (without going all Alan Green mind you). Don't tell us the Premiership is "the best league in the word" unless you could immediately answer the question "What's the second best", i.e. you have actually given the question some thought.

- Give referees a break. Players are on 50 grand a week. Officials are on a bowl of rice. But when a player fucks it up or makes a stupid choice "he'll be disappointed with that". Officials are hauled over the coals for things that a) aren't at all obvious without the benefit of slow-motion replays from multiple angles and b) hardly even matter, for example giving a throw-in the wrong way when the benificiaries go on to score from it. Fans, players and managers all like to blame the referee to distract attention from their own [team's] shortcomings. The media encourages this shamelessly.

- Give us people who understand the game and can communicate clearly. I don't care who they played for or how many caps they have. It's not good enough Ian Wright saying "I don't care about none of these teams I only care about England". It's not good enough Robbie Savage's entire argument being "I was a pro and you weren't so there". Richard Langley didn't play in the Premier League or for England but his blog is by far the best explanation of what's happening in QPR games that I have ever read. Gary Neville is an honourable exception but his understanding and clear explanation of why things are happening (compared to say Alan Shearer's look at this thing happening here style of analysis) should be the minimum expected.

- Lighten up a bit? It's only a game of football.

- Trickier, but try to have some understanding of probability and how you can't just pluck cause and effect out of thin air. Instead of "United will win", give us "United are favourites but if Rovers can do this, this and this them they'll definitely have a better chance". Instead of "QPR are going down that means they shouldn't have sacked Warnock", entertain the possibility that had Warnock stayed QPR might be down already (as I suspect may well be the case).

In a nutshell, stop dumbing the whole thing down. That's what I want you to do. Nonetheless, I expect this is like the Simpsons "Flaming Moe's" episode where Homer's shouting "You just lost yourself a customer" but Moe can't hear him for the cash register ringing and people shouting their orders. Thus and so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If I Ran Football (1) (Of Many) - Rule Changes

My boiling frustration at how football is run has finally reached a point where Twitter just isn't a sufficient outlet, so I'm going to lay out what I would change, about football (in a fantasy world where I had ultimate power). No doubt this will become more and more utopian and idealistic, but for now I'm just going to propose various rule changes that I think would all work and would all improve the game (short of technology being introduced, which I'll come onto later). Some of them aren't really even changes, just proper implementation of existing rules.

1. Game clock of 60 minutes which runs only when the ball is in play. Bang. 90% of time-wasting eliminated on the spot. At the end of a half, I'd suggest that play continues until the ball goes dead, as in rugby (not including fouls of course).

2. While we're on time-wasting, shielding the ball in the corner of the pitch with the intent to waste time is an indirect free kick for obstruction. IMO this isn't even a rule change.

3. As in rugby, dissent results in the dead ball being moved up to 10 yards in any direction the team offended against wishes [1]

4. Referee has a spray can with a form of paint that fades away after a minute or two. For a free kick that's a shooting opportunity, spray the line 10 yards away. Defender in front of the line when the ball is played, re-take. This is already being done in South America. Now I think of it, referee could also mark the spot where a free kick is supposed to be taken from.

5. A "professional foul" that results in a penalty is not also a red card (unless the sheer violence of the challenge merits is). I've been told this is actually coming in next season.

6. A defender handling a goalbound shot results in a penalty goal (whether accidentally or not). Obviously there is some judgement required by the referee but this is clearly the solution for an offence like Suarez' handball against Ghana.

7. Holding at a set piece is a free kick, and in the penalty area by a defender, it's a penalty. Fine, give 10 penalties per game for one week, the next week they'll stop. Again, this is only the correct implementation of existing rules.

That ought to do for a start! Next time I'll move on to decision review, using technology both on the spot and post-game.

[1] Not just 10 yards forward, there are situations where 25 yards out is a better spot than 20 for free kicks.