Former Premier League referee David Elleray says it will take time if “extreme” and “radical” new suggestions from football’s lawmakers, including the prospect of 30-minute halves, are to come into effect.
The International Football Association Board [IFAB] this week launched a program of potential innovations called ‘Play Fair!’, raising the prospect of halves being shortened and the clock being stopped when the ball goes out of play.
Aimed at reducing time-wasting and increasing actual playing time, IFAB technical director Elleray acknowledged the idea may be greeted with some resistance.
“That’s quite an extreme one,” he told Sky Sports when asked about the concept of shorter matches.
“But in other sports the clock is stopped when the ball goes out of play.
“We know that in most top-level football you only get about 60 minutes of play where the ball is actually in play.
“It’s often [late in the game] when we see the most time-wasting, time lost, because a team is winning 1-0 and want to preserve their win no matter what.
“This is certainly quite extreme and something we might move to more gradually.”
— The IFAB (@TheIFAB) June 15, 2017
Other suggestions include players being allowed to pass to themselves from free-kicks and corners, balls not needing to be stationary for a free-kick, penalties being awarded for goalkeepers handling a back pass and penalty goals for outfield players handling on the line.
Teams could also be docked points if players surround referees to protest against decisions.
Of the attempt to debate the merits of such alterations, Elleray said: “It’s a starting point to say ‘can we make the game better?’ People will find reasons not to do it but we just want to explore some of these and see if they come into fruition.
“Some of the more radical suggestions may take a couple of years, but we can test at different levels. At youth level, international, we may have some countries that say in their league they would like to try something.
“We’re not putting a time limit on them, it’s a five-year strategy. Some may come in much quicker, some may not come in at all. It depends on what football wants.
“What we’re saying is can we use the laws of the game to make football more attractive, fairer, to improve the behaviour of players and to gain greater respect.”
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