Experts debate what changes they would make to football

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The absence of football has given us plenty of time to wallow in nostalgia and reminisce about all the things we most miss about the sport.

The lack of ‘the beautiful game’ is difficult for some to come to terms with, and there is large hole in many people’s weekends where football would normally be.

But there are also plenty of aspects of the game that supporters are no doubt not quite so devastated to be without.

From VAR to diving, time-wasting to annoying adverts, everybody has their own pet peeves and features that they would like to see eradicated.

Our writers have their say on what one change they would make to football given the opportunity when it eventually returns:

Andy Dunn

Feigning injury has become a real pain. Time-wasting through this method has always existed and, despite attempts to clamp down on the practice, it shows no signs of going away.

Games have to be stopped for anything that looks like a head injury but if a player stays down, get the doctor on the pitch to treat him or her while play continues.

At least then, we would not have the recurring farce of teams agonising over whether to put the ball out of play or not.

Mike Walters

Scrap VAR.

For all its good intentions, and cutting out some of the cheating going on through simulation in the box, it has brought more misery and controversy than solving injustices.

Fans are not sure whether to celebrate goals, and the spontaneity has been strangled out of the joy of football.

Shut down Stockley Park now and re-open it as a museum to the year when we tried to kill football.

John Cross

Over familiarity in football commentary…

Fletch and Macca – sorry, guys, but it’s too much.

They call each other by their nicknames so much on BT Sport that we’re left wondering whether we’re intruding on a private conversation.

The annoying part is that I think they are good at what they do… but the matey part makes it a difficult listen/watch.

But, you know what, I’d happily put up with a round of Fletch and Macca throughout 90 minutes if it meant that football was back and the country was well and safe again.

Alex Milne

Scrap bookings for celebrating with fans.

In today’s environment, aspects of football can often feel distilled or watered down.

So the last thing we need is to kill the passion even more by denying players and fans the chance to celebrate together when an important goal is scored.

With footballers often criticised for being disconnected with the average supporter, one has to feel sorry for them when they are shown a yellow card for simply wanting to share the moment with their adoring public.

Of course, there has to be a limit on what they can do, and if they are endangering spectators or are overexuberant in their celebrations then the referee has every right to caution them.

But the idea that players are currently not allowed to even go near fans in the heat of the moment and with the adrenaline pumping is ridiculous, and should be looked at by the powers that be.

James Nursey

I expect everyone will want to see the use of VAR improved and i am no different.

Having goals ruled out because someone’s toe nail is offside is ridiculous because we want to see goals and action in games.

I’ve been at matches recently where the celebrations of goals by fans have been noticeably muted which is a great shame.

And on the topic of goal celebrations, referees always come across as total kill-joys when players are booked for whipping their shirt off in celebration or hugging the fans.

This whole VAR debate and saga has underlined how much we love goals and celebrating them so let players’ joy be unconfined when they hit the back of the net providing of course they don’t do anything especially daft or inflammatory.

Simon Mullock

Match officials have allowed time-wasting to creep into the game – and it drives me crazy.

Whether it’s a goal-kick, a set-piece or a throw-in, players are getting away with wasting an age before getting on with the game. Next time you watch a game, just count how long it takes for players to restart the play. Viewers at home are sometimes able to watch two or three replays of an incident before the cameras return to the live action, which gives an indication of how much time is being wasted.

The solution is to give players a time limit to get the ball back into play. In the NFL they have a play-clock to make sure teams get on with the game. It shouldn’t take more than 20 seconds to start a football game once a player has got hold of the ball.

Referees were once armed with the “six-second law” when goalkeepers had possession of the ball, but it was so rarely imposed that it was eventually abolished. It would be easy to have a play-clock on a stadium scoreboard to force players to get on with the game.

Neil McLeman

The top of the game has never been richer – and neither has the gap with the rest. The Premier League already gives money to the EFL and grass-roots initiatives but needs to give more.

I think, when real life returns after this crisis, there will be more of a feeling of collectivism – and obscene salaries will be less socially acceptable with the risk of a recession.

TV money from the richest league in the world needs to be used to support all levels of football – and the same for UEFA and FIFA.

David Anderson

I have long thought that football could copy rugby and introduce a bonus-point system for scoring goals.

It has encouraged teams to score more tries in rugby and I think it could have the same affect in football.

In rugby, teams get four points for a win and one bonus point for scoring four or more tries regardless of the result.

That could be adapted for football with teams, say, earning a bonus point if they score three or more goals even if they lose.


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