Arsenal fans will be delighted to hear that football’s lawmakers are planning on new measures to crackdown on timewasting.
Cardiff City’s match against Burnley on Sunday saw the ball in play for just 42min 2sec with both sides waiting for a total of eight minutes just for Sean Morrison to take throw-ins.
It was the shortest length of time the ball was in play during a Premier League match since Stoke v Aston Villa in December 2013 which saw the ball active for just 40min 50sec.
Timewasting is something we’re very familiar with at Arsenal with some smaller clubs choosing to start their shenanigans from the first few minutes while the referee takes little-to-no action until towards the end of the game when it no longer matters.
The International FA Board (Ifab) is considering action as part of their ‘Play Fair’ strategy and it is believed to be one of a number of new ideas under consideration.
An Ifab source said: “We all want to crack down on major time-wasting and increase playing time but the fundamental question is how we do it.”
It would seem to be a fairly easy fix.
At present, goalkeepers are not allowed to hold on to the ball with their hands for more than six seconds, although referees rarely enforce that law. A similar edict could work for throw-ins and free-kicks.
Whatever Ifab decide, ensuring referees actually follow the laws of the game would be a good place to start. There is no fairness in allowing a side to waste time for 89 minutes before a yellow card is finally produced.
Any changes will have to be sanctioned by Ifab when they hold their annual meeting in Scotland in March.