Should the responsibility of timekeeping be taken away from referees?

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?

Jon Fox


  1. Naija Jollof says:

    I woke up today knowing I won’t be seeing AW next season ?? Ya gooners Ya

    1. barryglik says:

      Yes me too. ha ha ha.
      Thank goodness the selfish
      old man has stepped down.
      We get a one year discount for putting up
      with the arrogant megalomaniac for a decade too long.
      Wenger was kept on by Kroenke to implement the 4th place
      trophies are too expensive “sustainable” model.
      Wenger who had been burnt by Mou and Fergie gladly
      accepted the 7mill salary to cultivate a decade
      of overpaid under paid weaklings just like the fan base
      became weaklings living off the invincibles for a decade.
      Lets celebrate the end of the despot. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Marcus says:

        Lmfaooooo Barry you delusional old man. Armchair criticism at it’s finest. Just blame Wenger for the downfall even though the downfall started when Kronke and Gazidis took over the club and shuffled up the board. How can a man that built the modern day Arsenal allow it to spiral. The man gave 22 years of his life to this club so show him the respect he deserves. Would you build up your business and become a global household name and then think for the next 10 years I’m going to completely piss this down the pan. I have such a hatred for ignorant fans like you. You take in all the media bashing but never bother to do your own research. You should be on Arsenal fan tv you’ll fit in perfect with your irrelevant views. Guardiola turned down the Arsenal job because our budget was laughable that’s why he’s at City. No-one could finish top 4 for 20 years on Wenger’s budget while winning trophies and amazing football. Last two years players have let him down massively especially this season.

        1. barryglik says:

          ” Armchair criticism at it’s finest”
          Thank you old bean.
          Must keep up the standards wot?

        2. sarsfieldNY says:

          Thank you, Marcus. Very well said! I too despise ignorant fans that spew such poison, only hurting the club. It is one thing to criticize tactics, substitutions and post match comments, but it is another to bash the character of a man who revolutionized football, established the utmost values, and defined a club as one of the most attractive sides the world has ever seen.

          At the end of the day, the next manager has a wealth of talent to use. I just hope we can find someone brave enough to take on the portion of AFC fans that are only satisfied by buying trophies.

      2. Ken 1945 says:

        Why don’t you get off your soapbox and move on.
        As a Wenger supporter I have moved on and accept the decisions made.
        You just keep going on and on and on, regugitating the same old bile with every post.
        What we should be doing is looking forward.
        By the way, this is an excellent subject involving referees, let’s discuss that shall we?!

  2. Sitrafox says:

    Totally. In fact, Time should not be linked to any action. If time is up the whistle should be blown

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      A few years ago when one of the terrestrial channels showed Italian football, it used to come up at the end of the game the amount of time the ball was actually in play. Surprisingly it was usually between 50 and 60 minutes of the 90, some times less. That’s one thought, another is Fergie time, especially when United fan and referee, Mike Riley, was doing one of his many Manchester United games. He would just play on until United scored. The media accepted it and called it Fergie time. Big joke

  3. Phil says:

    Could I just comment on the topic subject of choice.
    We are at a very very crucial time in the history of Arsenal Football Club.I don’t believe I am over exaggerating this fact.Appointing a new Manager to move this Club forward is the single most important issue we as supporters are facing for a long time.There is NOTHING that could possibly be a higher priority at this time and nor should there be.
    Admin-Shame on you
    The Author of the piece-You too hold your head in shame for believing anyone should be even considering what to have for breakfast this morning.Admin-please suspend this Author immediately from this site.??????????

    1. Jon Fox says:


      1. Ozziegunner says:

        I may be wrong, but I think Phil’s comment is tongue in cheek (note smiling faces).
        jon, I appreciate what you are trying to do in taking our minds off our concerns re the new manager.

        1. Phil says:

          Absolutely OG totally Tongue in cheek

          1. jon fox says:

            Good to hear. A confession to make is that my eyesight is not sharp enough to see your smiling faces clearly. One reason I never use emojis, so I actually had to wonder what they were. So I am admirable qualified to become a referee then! As to the new manager, the bookies were still making Allegri favourite on Saturday but he has now said he will only leave Juventus if he is sacked. So we can rule that out. I have deep foreboding over the more and more likely appointment of Arteta. I just don’t see our fans accepting him and unless he starts (and he is still only an “if” at present) like a train, watch the fat fly!

          2. Phil says:

            Yeah JF -it seems Arteta is really fancied by some at the Club but to my mind we need at the very least a Manager with experience and not just an up and coming Coach who MAY WELL develop into a top replacement.Arteta is a risk.Have just read a very very good article on another site that Champions Arteta And really does make a lot of sense but we are Arsenal Football Club.When do we ever do things the easy way?

          3. John0711 says:

            What’s the article Phil

          4. Phil says:

            It’s on Le Grove John and it’s a very worthwhile read.It certainly gives a very structured and well reasoned suggestion of why Arteta could just be the right fit.Keen to hear what you think John

  4. Grandad says:

    Absolutely.They have done it successfully in Rugby League for years.When a player is injured or feigns injury, stop the clock.When a player is substituted,stop the clock so there is no point in the slow trudge off the park.When a team scores and celebrates ,stop the clock.Simple.

  5. GB says:

    The problem is that a game may then routinely last over 100 minutes and those poor fans who always leave 5 minutes before time won’t know when to go?.
    Seriously though there would have to be a clear set of rules drawn up as to what constitutes a stoppage worthy of adding time on. Time wasting is a point in question, i.e. if you add time on for a keeper wasting time taking a goal kick, do you also add time on when a team takes the ball into the corner (which I find really annoying) to run the clock down, wasting time?
    It’s a good subject Jon and thanks for something to debate as speculating who what and when happens next is getting boring.

    1. Jon Fox says:

      Yes GB, There is much more detail I would like to have added. But as we all know, the constant turnover of topics every few hours and the small article space allowed, discourages more in depth writing and discussion. Always a rush to “next thread” on here , which I personally regret, esp as many are so similar to those shortly gone before.

  6. You don’t know time wasting if you have never played FIFA on console ?

  7. barryglik says:

    I think stoppages are generally
    handled very well by referees.
    The ball is in play much longer
    in football than rugby and especially NFL.
    Most football teams have at least 300
    touches of the football and if they dominiate
    as many as 700 touches per game.
    In rugby teams score one in 3 times they reach the opponents 22
    In football teams have up to 60 possessions within 20m
    of the opponents goal yet some teams average less than one goal per game.
    How can 28 multi millionaires justify a 1-0 scoreline?
    The game needs to make changes to have more goals scored.
    I would suggest a shot clock like basketball.
    A pass limit say 7 consecutive passes in the opponents half.
    No passing the ball back over the half way line.
    Reducing the number of players per team on the field to 9
    but allowing the continual interchange of 7 subs like basketball.

    1. Jon Fox says:

      barryglik, In short you seem to prefer a diferent game , it seems ?

      1. barryglik says:

        I follow a multitudinous
        array of sports and
        comparisons are often interesting.

        1. jon fox says:

          I also follow many different sports and like the differences in them all. But to me nothing seriously rivals football at it’s best. Your proposals are so drastic that it would become a different sport. I just feel we could(and should) do far more to eliminate time wasting in all its forms, which would make football even better. We need to give refs more authority on the field, backed properly by technology(and the footballlauthorities) with the fans kept in the loop at all times. Timekeeping, alone, should be taken right away from refs. I could expand far more and would but many only want soundbites rather than proper reasoned argument backed up with figures and stats to support the case. I think that is a shame but we live in an everything is either black or white with few shades of grey world, sadly.

    2. Ken 1945 says:

      That makes even less sense than your views on Wenger and that’s saying something!
      limiting a team to seven consecutive passes?
      Barcelona supporters must be wetting themselves with laughter after reading this
      How can 28 millionares justify a 1-0 scoreline? Do I detect a note of jealousy there?
      Well, perhaps the fact that a club like City spend millions of pounds buying defenders for incredible amounts of money to stop forwards who have also cost incredible amounts of money from scoring.
      Here’s an idea, let’s supply every player with a hula hoop, so that they can swerve past their opponent, but are only allowed to girate once every ten minutes…reckon that will fit in nicely with your suggestions on how to improve the game and of course referees timekeeping (the topic of conversation).

  8. Innit says:

    I like general football questions/articles like this. Every article doesn’t need to be about Arsenal specifically. Especially with summer coming up every article can’t be about transfers

    Yes. The referee has enough to think about.

  9. Jimmy Jazz says:

    I guess one of the major obstacles with adding accurate amounts of “injury time” at the end of each game is down to TV. The likes of Sky and BT plough billions of pounds into the game and probably demand to know when its going to finish to assist their scheduling. Thats why 3 to 5 mins extra is the norm.

  10. tas says:

    Yes what ever…….let Man-U wary about Ferguson time

    i’m getting worried now that Massimiliano Allegri is also out of the ruining for Arsenal manager, like usual we always mess up on transfers and become desperate and get second rate and pay over the odd’s, lets just go for Carlo Ancelottie the only manager who actually managed top teams and wants to come and if any of the ex Arsenal players likes of Thierry Henry and Arteta want’s to become Arsenal manager let them learn to walk as an assistant first

    1. Admin says:

      “out of the ruining” I like that lol

      1. Jon Fox says:

        A Freudian slip , perhaps! Also lol!

        1. tas says:

          what can i say i’m just like Arsenal i was to tight to buy higher education so i settled for Google 🙂

          1. jon fox says:

            Great riposte!

    2. Mobella says:

      Out of running you mean to write. But the question is , was he ever in the run to begin with. We need to keep our emotions in check and engage our brain more often. We are arsenal fans and we know how media uses us to make some headlines.The fact that someone being considered doesn’t mean he gets the main job. There a lot of coaching role to be filled. Our under21 coaches are on suspension for wrong doing.

      1. tas says:

        there you go a job for Arteta to start his coaching crier under 21’s

  11. Ken 1945 says:

    The biggest problem we have in football at the momentt is the fact that the referees are untouchable.
    No one is allowed to criticise, question or even joke about this “elite” band of t*****s who have managed to ensure not one of them will represent our country in the upcoming world cup.
    Just think about that, not one of our referees is deemed capable of participating in the largest football event in the world.
    Have our media questioned this? No, because it is a cozy little club set up to mask the referees complete incompetence.
    We have these ridiculous fourth officials in the CL etc standing either side of the goal, getting paid for doing sweet nothing.
    Of course even the simple job of stopping and starting ones stopwatch will be a hard thing for them to manage, so the idea of following rugby leagues example makes perfect sense.
    Why do I think it will never happen?
    Because this current regime under Riley wants complete control in order that no one can usurp them.

    1. Phil says:

      Ken1945 the standard of referees in the Premiership has been going downhill steadily for years.They seem to make the game all about them.When was the last time we had a core of say 5or 6 refs who you knew were respected by the players and therefore commanded respect for the game itself.And your right to bring up the idiot who thought of introducing the idea of the official to stand and patrol the goal line area in European games.What is all that about.
      VAR will soon be introduced in ALL Premiership games.I believe this is because the powers that be realised the Referees are just not capable of getting the big decisions right

      1. I heard goal line technology is still very expensive and not all teams that participate in the champions league have it. So if it were used in one game and not the next it would cause controversy..better to use the clown standing next to the goal for all games for uniformity until all teams have goal line technology installed in their respective stadiums.

        1. jon fox says:

          But, as you say, they are “clowns”. Why use a clown, when technology is available to at least most , at CL level?

          1. Because it will give an undue advantage to those who use it as opposed to those who rely on human judgement. As much as we can say the refereeing at the premier league is bad, in the champions league it’s equally bad if not worse. Remember the Welbeck dive right infront of the 4th official who still missed it? Or the shady second yellow A. Madrid got at the Emirates inside the 10th minute? It’s either everyone uses technology or nobody does.

          2. Ken 1945 says:

            Quantic Dream
            If Var is used in, say Barcelona against Luton Town, with the home leg in Spain first and assuming Luton could not afford VAR.
            At Barcelona, the decisions would be scrutinised by VAR for both teams AND no referee would be able to give “homer” decisions because of that.
            The return leg would be under the influence of the referee and, once again, both teams would be equal, only this time subject to human error.
            So over the two games, one with and one without VAR, both sides have a level playing field.

          3. sarsfieldNY says:

            shady second yellow? you’re nuts! very easy to see the defender committed a full studded stomp onto the attacker’s ankle after the ball had gone. anyone who has played the game knows this type of tackle can cause serious injury. easy yellow card..

          4. Midkemma says:

            I’m with you Jon.
            I also find the excuse of not all teams can afford this tech a laugh, how much do teams get for playing in the UCL?

            If teams wish to participate then why not make it a criteria for the stadium to have VAR capability?

            Doesn’t solve the English refs being a joke though.
            I have wanted AFC to make a stand against dodgy ref calls by displaying the incident on the big screen in slow mo, let the world see that the ref is making bad call after bad call and let the fans abuse the refs for it (it is an area that can be rectified so not like abusing over gender or skin colour). TV could/should be doing a mock the week thing with refs, just lay into them.
            Maybe SpecSavers could sponsor the show XD

            Humiliation, I have found it to be a great tool 🙂

          5. jon fox says:

            Midkemma, Dangerous territory if you do this. Why not then show every players mistakes and once you open that can of worms you are in deep and dangeous waters. Not for me. Sort it out afterwards but not in full view of the public. This is PRECISELY WHY, we need far more help for refs during the game and to tackle the cheating culture right throughout every level of top football. Honesty enhances everything it touches, dishonesty spoils everything. Including and in fact especially HUMAN BEINGS! Humiliation breeds only resentment and mistrust.

    2. jon fox says:

      Ken , Whilst totally agreeing that refs are often arrogant and generally way below par, the cheating attitudes of players backed by one eyed managers and let it be said, biased fans everywhere hinderes honesty. There is an ingrained culture of cheating throughout pro football. Pundits who praise a so called “professional” foul , which means endorsing cheating, are a case in point. G. Neville often does this and shame on him, even though I generally like his forthrightness. In my view there is no REAL will to PROPERLY clean up the game from the football authorities, players, fans and managers. Where there IS a will great reforms can be achieved. But without that will all we get is more cant and hypocrisy. Wenger was as bad as any of them ,with his lies about”I did not see it”. Highly driven men and serial winners rarely indulge in the greater wisdom and wider views that most DO HAVE but only use when the matter in hand is history. HONESTY MUST COME FROM WITHIN. WITHOUT IT, ALL ATTEMPTS TO TINKER WITH THE GAME TO GET MORE HONESTY ARE DOOMED TO COMPARATIVE FAILURE!

  12. Ian Ures Boots says:

    On referees competence, players make lots of mistakes, coaches make mistakes, journalists make mistakes, Football club boards make mistakes so why can’t referees make mistakes?
    Gives all you armchair pundits something to whinge about down the pub doesn’t it?

    1. tas says:

      absurdity right, if the referees got it spot on every time football will be like watching grass grow and AW would of left ten years ago if it weren’t for blaming the referees on poor result

    2. jon fox says:

      But refs mistakes are often curable with properly used and open to all technology. Football has “laws” (a rather grand title for rules). Just because mistakes are made elsewhere, is no PROPER reason to blithely accept refs mistakeds, when there IS help available.

      1. Ken 1945 says:

        Ian Ure (that brings back fond memories)’s Boots,
        But the point I am making is that the referees are accountable to nobody else.
        They are untouchable and woe betide anyone who questions them.
        As an example, our game away against WBA when Dean awarded a penalty for something he couldn’t see. The media on that occasion came out as one and agreed with Wengers statement saying “you saw what you wanted to see”.
        Dean then admitted he got it wrong,so his punishment….another premier league game with the next set of fixtures. No accountability whatsoever.
        VAR will change things for the better and someone who made the point that certain clubs can’t afford it doesn’t make sense.
        VAR is not there for the benefit of the rich clubs, it’s there to make correct decisions. Those clubs that can’t afford it will actually benefit from weak referees who side with the richer clubs and make “homer” decisions.
        If the “smaller” clubs can’t afford it, then carry on with the current system for their home games only, where once again both teams are playing to the same criteria.
        Yes, players, managers and even fans condone cheating, BUT they are not the officials in charge of the game are they?
        Their decisions are final, not bleating players or managers, and therefore need to be correct. Tht’s why we should give them every assistance and fire those that continually making incorrect decisions.

        1. Phil says:

          Very well reasoned Ken1945 as always and there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that VAR will make right the flash points that decide key moments and quite often the result of games.
          But sometimes it’s the controversy of these decisions that make the game itself so compelling.The WBA game was a prime example.An outrageously bad decision and coupled with Mike Deans behaviour towards Wenger just about summed up not only that game but our season as it was playing out at the time.Then take Mustafi’s opener against the Spuds at the Emirates.Slightly offside but VAR would have definitely ruled it out.Then again Lacazettes “equaliser” away at Stoke would probably have stood with VAR instead of being ruled out.
          So I suppose what I’m suggesting is do we really want to have taken away from us the knife edge decisions that go for and against us and lead the topics of debate in media and supporters in most every game?
          Also Ken please don’t forget that as from 16.45 yesterday afternoon(or 19.30pm) if the Tef took Jon Fox’s article into account) I have to have something in my life to moan and curse about.See isn’t that just typical of Wenger.He goes when I am needing him most.
          Anyway again very good post from you on a very good article by Sir JF

          1. Ken 1945 says:

            I knew it and I told you so….your missing him already!!!

            Yes, your points regarding the Arsenal games are correct.
            But in this day of Sky and BT, a game has so many cameras catching every angle the referee is under intense scrutiny whether we like it or not.
            That will never change, so if we have to live with it, then let’s take it on completely.
            Maybe then jokers like Dean will be unmasked for the fraud of a referee he really is (along with others) and the divers and cheaters who bring the game into disrepute will be found out and shamed.
            I still cannot believe that we have not one representative at the world cup and yet the professional game and the media are accepting this!
            I agree with you reference the article and as we wait for the announcement, Jon couldn’t have timed this debate better.
            Still think your a bit overboard with the”Sir” title…Knight of the garter should suffice!

          2. Phil says:

            Ken 1945-How about. Jon Fox A legend in his own mind?

          3. jon fox says:

            A mere peasant if the truth be really known!

          4. Ken 1945 says:

            Now Jon and I are the best of friends, I couldn’t possibly go along with that suggestion.
            I go along with Jon…sorry mate!!!!

  13. Ronny says:

    Yes why not and put it on a big screen like basketball, with a Claxton at the end.

    Ot I’m hearing allegri has said he’s staying at juve due to his contract.
    As we clearly can’t succession plan for sh*t!
    This has got interim manager written all over it.
    Who is the best person to accept a rolling on year contract and to get us back into the cl positions, (then getting a better chance for a long term manager that we desire).
    To me it’s Rafa or Ancelotti.
    I can feel Arteta is going to get it though I can’t believe our thinking! Even Ian Wright said in motd it would be a good appointment, really how?

    Can’t think of any postive except for maybe him bringing a bit of peps knowledge with him.
    I can however think of lots of negative reasons not to give it to him, (the board will own him, too familiar with players, any clout in the transfer market or to draw players to the club?, any experience of football management and the day to pressure and responsibility?) I could go on.
    Really what are we doing?!?!

  14. Midkemma says:

    I personally think that all clubs could do more to shame the FA and refs into doing a better job, why not show the refs errors LIVE on the big screens at the matches?

    Let the fans boo and hiss the bad calls, heckle the ref if they make childish mistakes, paint a target on the refs back for the errors they do.

    It isn’t our players fault that the ref failed to see a foul yet we moan at players to play to the whistle… Even I say it. Kinda hard if the player has a broken leg and one would hope the ref stops the game but hey, it aint a head injury! Play to the whistle boys…

    Is this what we want to watch in 5 years time? 10 years time?

    Or do we want some kinda quality control on our refs so they can represent us at the biggest stages.

    1. Ken 1945 says:

      have you ever been a qualified referee?
      I have and it is one of the most difficult jobs going.
      There is no need to humilate anybody is there?
      My point on referees is that they should be accountable for their mistakes after the match has finished and when they are being assessed by an independant panel
      Do you know that Riley has boasted that his squad of referees get all the major decisions right 96% of the time? Yeah, that’s why no referee from England features in the world cup.
      Yet he won’t allow anyone to verify that absurd claim.
      If your thoughts about putting referees mistakes on the big screen to humiliate them was to happen, then we would have no referees at all.
      Just give them all the help they need whilst refereeing a game…(VAR)..and take away the need to keep an eye on the time in order to concentrate on the real matter.

  15. Ronny says:

    Dodgey subject to bring up on just arsenal site but I thought Poch’s latest statement to Daniel Levy was clever and weighted.
    Basically saying up the wages so we can compete and buy better players and not sell Kate etc or I’m off to an ambitious club in Real Madrid!

    Good on him, never know Wenger may end up at spurs lol

Comments are closed