Premier League time waster: Referees fail to clamp down on stoppage as IFAB prepares to discuss solutions | football news

The amount of football being played in the Premier League is at an all-time low.

Considered the best top-flight competition in the world, the league is seeing more time lost due to slow restarts, delayed tactics and time-consuming injuries than ever before, and officials struggle to keep up with the time wasters.

The Premier League’s new head of refereeing, Howard Webb, believes it is the most discussed issue in the game outside of VAR – but he is reluctant to follow in the footsteps of last month’s World Cup to tackle what has become a long-standing problem.

In a regular Premier League match this season, the ball has been played in just under 56 percent of the game. This figure has been dropping steadily over the past ten years and with 2022/23 it is the lowest on record.

The frustrations had begun even before this slip-up, to the point that Sir Alex Ferguson, then Manchester United manager, suggested removing time from referees’ hands as far back as 2012.

Although he was protecting the interests of his side, this sentiment was and still is widely shared. A number of directors and executives have already complained to the media this season, as well as to the Premier League’s governing body (PGMOL).

Sky Sports The analysis found that in 23 matches this season, Premier League fans sat during matches in which the ball was out of play for more than half the playing time.

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When Crystal Palace and Leeds met in October, two incidents occurred in the first half that took more than seven minutes of stoppages alone – but only five minutes were added.

Crystal Palace’s match against Leeds in October was the least played, with the ball played in less than 44 minutes of the nearly 101-minute game.

In the first half of that match, a Palace goal saw the VAR review for almost two minutes, after which a clash of heads led to a five-minute, 45-second stoppage. The referee added only five minutes before the end of the first half.

Leeds managing director Angus Kinnear described the match as “an unacceptable spread for both players and spectators” and said he would raise the issue with PGMOL.

Three months later, nothing has changed. In the Wolverhampton-Manchester United match on New Year’s Eve, the number of injuries three times in the second half amounted to more than seven minutes, with another minute delay for the VAR check on a goal disallowed. Again, five minutes are added.

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In the Wolverhampton-Manchester United match on New Year’s Eve, the number of injuries three times in the second half amounted to more than seven minutes at Molineux, while another minute was lost in front of the video assistant referee review. Again an additional five minutes was indicated

The World Cup showed how things can be improved. The initiative of FIFA Chief Referee Pierluigi Collina led to a more accurate breakdown of injury time until the average match during last month’s tournament was over 101 minutes.

His reasoning was “people want to watch football, more football”. And it worked. Injury time decreased by more than a quarter as teams gave up wasting time, with the ball in play increasing by nearly 5 percent by the end of the tournament.

The average game, excluding extra time, featured over 58 minutes of football. That’s more than any of Europe’s top five leagues this season.

Jamie Carragher was among the fans of Collina’s idea. “[I’m] He enjoys the time being added in the World Cup, as he tweeted: “There is a lot of wasted time in football!”

Since the World Cup, PGMOL chairman Webb has poured cold water on the Premier League by drawing on what he calls the “extraordinary” methods used in Qatar and insisting that referees do add a “reliable” amount of time.

“I am a big advocate of ensuring that referees can take action against players who delay restarts, and those who immediately stand up to free kicks to prevent them from going down,” he said. Sky Sports Before the Premier League resumed on Boxing Day.

But more recently, in last week’s Arsenal-Newcastle draw, there were more than 10 minutes of stoppages due to injuries, substitutions and warnings for wasting alone time after half-time. This was another occasion when five minutes of injury time were added.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was visibly angry at the decision, while teammates Jesse Marsh and Jurgen Klopp also criticized what they described as disruptive tactics with impunity by referees.

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Howard Webb told Sky Sports he would like to see trials of a new interpretation of stoppage time before it is implemented in the Premier League.

“It’s entertaining and I hope the referee handled it better,” Marsh said. Sky Sports After their match against Everton only five games into the season. “The referee had the opportunity to influence the match and he did not take advantage of that,” he added.

Officials have tried some new approaches. Forty yellow cards have been handed out for wasting time this season, a number on the way to the highest level in the Premier League by some margin, but it has made little difference.

The return of the multi-ball system at the start of 2022/23 was also meant to help restart play faster and it couldn’t stop the decline either.

The real change may come from the top of Webb and PGMOL. The IFAB, the international body that acts as football’s law-maker, has discussed problems with playing time already this season and is set to address them again when it meets next week.

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Jesse Marsh felt Everton had come to slow things down and complained about the refereeing of their tactics when the two sides met in August.

Wasting time is not an issue confined to England. In fact, three of Europe’s top five leagues see less ball in play than the English Premier League, and in the Scottish Premier League less than 51 minutes of football is played during a regular match – four less than the Premier League.

The IFAB will review the success of the stricter approach to stopping World Cup finals, and address how existing laws of the game – such as the six-second limit for goalkeepers to hold the ball – can be applied more consistently.

It will also discuss whether Ferguson’s long-awaited desire to add an outside timekeeper to the game is a realistic possibility.

Sky Sports Note the repeated abuse of the six-second rule by goalkeepers in the most stoppage-affected Premier League game this season, disrupting the course of the game even though the ball remained in play.

In one match, the referee did not intervene despite the same goalkeeper holding onto the ball for more than 15 seconds on six separate occasions.

Along with Ferguson, the pressure to take the responsibility of extra time out of the hands of the referees has been a long-running campaign for former Arsenal boss David Dean. He has spoken with both PGMOL and FIFA about his proposals and is very influential in his role as an ambassador for the FA and Premier League.

“I was defending her because the referee is the busiest man on the field,” he said. TalkSPORT earlier this month. “If you ask any referee, they will tell you that they don’t need and don’t want to keep time anymore. They run the football game. They have a lot to do.”

“When we talk about pure time, I’m not suggesting it be a one-minute throw-in or corner kick. But there are usually four or five areas in the game where time is wasted.

If you ask any referee, they will tell you that they don’t need it and they don’t want to keep time anymore. They are running a football game. They have a lot to do

Premier League Ambassador David Dean

“Goal celebrations, injuries, substitutions, VAR checking, penalties. Now, if you add it all up, a minute and a half here, a minute there and another minute there, you add up to eight, nine or 10 minutes over a game.

“I was at the World Cup and spoke to FIFA officials. I made offers for them and slowly but surely, I think we’ll put it on the agenda.”

The World Cup has helped advance the issue faster than expected, bringing the issue of wasting time to the table, and showing how effective it can be dealt with through a consistent approach.

But when Premier League fans start to see more of the football they’ve paid to see, without outside interference from the FAB, remains to be seen.

Sky Sports have contacted the Premier League and PGMOL for comment.

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