Football needs to introduce independent timekeepers to combat time-wasting
by Keith Hackett
For a number of years, I’ve felt that football needs to introduce an independent timekeeper to reduce referees’ workloads and combat the increasing amount of time-wasting we’re seeing.
Monday night’s match between Chelsea and Burnley where Sean Dyche’s team were accused of time-wasting only strengthened this view.
The current system is simply not working. When you look at modern referees, rarely do we see them stopping their watches. They might show it to the goalkeeper but they rarely stop it. This is contributing to the ball not being in play for about a third of games, which is simply not providing fans with value for money.
Time-wasting starts from minute one, but I don’t think our referees are wise to that. They start to react too late in the game when a lot of time has already been lost. If the goalkeeper’s taking too much time, all it needs is a quiet word to tell him to speed up or a word with the captain letting them know that you are wise to it.
And then we’re seeing players doing things like delaying taking throw-ins by running forward knowing they’ll be told to move back. In actual fact, the throw-in should be given the other way.
There are many areas to improve how we deal with time-wasting – even the law that means goalkeepers must get rid of the ball within six seconds is being dealt with too leniently. Managers are cute and increasingly becoming wise to this – they know if they slow the game down they are giving the opposition less time to score a goal because the time is being lost and not added on.
So let’s take this pressure and responsibility out of their hands by employing an independent timekeeper. It could work like in rugby union where the clock, which would be visible to everyone, is stopped when the ball is dead. This way those watching at the ground and at home would know exactly how much time in the half is left rather than waiting until stoppage time and then suspecting that the added-on time is not entirely accurate.
I appreciate there would be issues with matches taking longer and it potentially impacting television schedules, but it would mean less time-wasting and a far better spectacle. Surely that is in everyone’s interests?
Keith Hackett is a former referee and his e-book, You are the Ref, is out now.
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