We’ve all been there. We’ve all sat in the stands, our team is 1-0 down to an opponent and the second half begins. You expect a backlash from your side, marauding forward in chase of that equaliser.
Unfortunately, your opponent has other plans. Time wasting. Hell bent on ensuring that those 3 points stay in their grasp. They will do absolutely anything they can legally do to make sure it happens. Sometimes, they will bend the rules to breaking point, teetering on the edge of foul play.
You sit there, screaming at the ref. Screaming at the culprit of this act, this act of time wasting. Frustration is boiling over and the entire enjoyment of the spectacle that is football is sucked out of the stadium.
Some would call the game management. Some applaud it, fans, pundits, even managers. But this so called game management is ruining the on-the-day experience for thousands who attend games across the country.
This problem is nothing new, it is something that has tainted the game for decades. But as the price of football becomes more for the fans, the frustrations increase.
The money involved within the leagues and clubs itself has contributed to this problem. Teams are now ‘managing games’ to keep themselves in leagues, in competitions, as the prize for doing so is so great, as is the loss.
At the end of 2017, in the Premier League, West Ham had the football in play for an average of 53 minutes and 34 seconds over the 90 minutes. Meaning fans were only watching roughly 2/3 of the match they are paying for.
The team that had the ball in play for the largest amount of time over the course of a 90 minute match was Chelsea. With the ball in play for 58 minutes and 31 seconds. Only just shy of 5 minutes more playtime between the top and bottom ends of the spectrum.
There is, apparently, at least 1 rule in place to prevent time wasting. That involved goalkeepers kicking the ball from their hands.
6 seconds, is the length of time allowed before the ball must leave the keepers hands. You can often see players, such as Shane Long, will purposely count their fingers at the referee to ensure this rule is enforced. But how often is it?
You can watch every game throughout several weekends of football, the amount of times that a goalkeeper will break this rule will be too many to count. The amount of times it is penalised? You wouldn’t even need a second hand.
So the officials at matches have some responsibility to tackling this problem. In fact, the referees at a game are the forefront of tackling the issue, the front line of rule enforecement.