David Dein wants time-keeping to be run independently of the on-field referee, after Arsenal played just 51 minutes of football against Newcastle United.
The Times report that the ball was in play for just 51 minutes and 23 seconds of Arsenal’s game against Newcastle United, four minutes less than the Premier League average this season.
David Dein, former Arsenal vice-chairman and current FA and Premier League ambassador, is pushing for a trial to be held with independent time-keeping and a countdown clock.
The countdown would be visible to fans and stopped every time there is a significant delay.
This is far from the first time such an idea has been raised. Previous proposals have generally included reducing the total length of a match, given current matches get nowhere near the full 90 minutes in actual playing time.
As mentioned above, the average for Premier League matches is around 55 minutes this season. That average is being dragged down by teams that waste time, so 60 minutes would probably be about right for a full game.
Alternatively, you could keep 45-minute halves and only use the stop clock for major incidents – substitutions, injuries, and VAR reviews.
The problem with that is that it allows teams to take full minutes over goal-kicks and free-kicks and corners and throw-ins, as they do currently.
The only way to (almost) completely eradicate the impact of time-wasting is to use a stop-clock whenever the ball isn’t in play.
Teams would still be able to disrupt momentum by faking injuries and so on, but the time would restart with the same number of minutes remaining as before the disruption.
For now, until Dein manages to convince football’s lawmakers to trial the new system, we’re a long way off the problem actually being addressed.