The Farce of timekeeping by referees by Jon Fox
We must all have noticed how referees routinely add injury time but either do not add sufficient time or add too much. Once the board held up by the fourth official is shown we expect, usually, three, four or five minutes extra, dependent on the actual injuries occurring and the substitutions also. On top of that some refs add time for deliberate time wasting, usually by the winning side, but some do not, it seems!
Time wasting is a difficult matter to accurately assess and I propose that all match time keeping be taken entirely away from the referee and the match ended by a hooter as in rugby matches. Refs themselves waste a great deal of time when awarding free kicks and this is very frustrating for fans. I often watch games on TV and actually time precisely the time taken between the foul and the taking of the free kick. This is often a full minute or more, with the “shaving foam” farce that precedes the actual taking. As an average game has over twenty free kicks, and often far more, a huge amount of the ninety minutes is actively wasted. Refs have more than enough to worry about as things stand, without having to also be responsible for timing all the many stoppages. To me, free kicks are my personal “bete noire” and the endless shenanigans taking place twixt award and taking the kick spoil the game and it’s flow.
The beautiful game is at it’s best when it flows seamlessly a la Manchester City this season or our own great sides in Wenger’s first decade. Surely we should aim to make this as easy to attain as possible and not break up and frustate fans with endless and far too long stoppages. In my view there is rarely anywhere near enough added time in almost all games. If this were given to a timekeeper in the stand on a TV monitor, I suggest we would have far more actual football and the game would be more honest, timewise, and would avoid refs being blamed for incorrect timekeeping.
There is also the time “scam” of refs constantly blowing for full time precisely as a goal kick is taken and never before a corner, once awarded, is actually taken. I saw this happen ONCE this week, which is incredibly rare and the losing side surrounded the ref, berating him for applying the rules correctly. For once!
This proposal will speed up the game, correct wrong timekeepimg and help to frustrate the time wasting now used so shamelessly by the winning side. I want totally honest football and my proposal would go at least some way to making our great game more honest. What do people think?