2 April 2019
Despite concerted and chronic attempts at ruining the game as a spectacle, The FIFA Executive Committee For Screwing Up The Rules Of Football (known as IFAB to the rest of you) has decided that the rules of the game are nowhere near complicated enough. Therefore the Committee has decreed the following changes to the rules of the game with effect from 4.05am on 1 July 2019 in Schleswig-Holstein and from 4.06am on 1 July 2019 in the rest of the world. No, even we do not understand the reason for that either.
Over a very nice bottle or two of Chianti, the Committee has decided that the offside rule is still far too easy to understand. The following completely unnecessary and generally ludicrous changes will be introduced with the intention of adding further complication and confusion for everyone including supporters, managers, players and – most importantly – referees.
1.1 A player shall not be deemed offside if they have set at least one foot inside their own penalty area in the two minutes and eighteen seconds immediately preceding the incident concerned.
1.2 A player shall not be deemed offside if they have been brought onto the field of play as either the first or the third substitute used – but not the second – but only in the final seventeen minutes of play including any stoppage time to be played.
1.3 If the game is taking place on a Monday evening, a player shall not be deemed offside if they have ever worn blue boots or if their mother is from Azerbaijan. This shall not apply in the last seven minutes and twenty-three seconds of the game including any stoppage time to be played.
1.4 Two offside decisions given against the same player in a single match will now be punishable by a yellow card; three offside decisions against the same player will result in a red card and a suspension of at least five games.
Having been to the ballet in Paris last week, the Committee has recognised the importance of poses and silhouettes in general and how they may be used to ruin football more effectively.
2.1 Handball will not be given against any player provided the hand is in a natural position. What constitutes a natural position is anyone’s guess.
2.2 A player striking a Nureyev-like pose inside the penalty area shall only be guilty of handball if the ball strikes either the back of the hand or the index finger if that finger is deemed to be in an unnatural position. What constitutes an unnatural position is a mystery to us too.
2.3 A ball striking the testicles of a defending player will also be considered handball if they are hanging in an unnatural position. This stipulation will not apply to the women’s game.
3.0 Dropped Ball
After careless consideration, the Committee has decided that there is absolutely no need to interfere with the existing dropped ball rules. So, here goes:
3.1 If play is stopped inside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for the goalkeeper to sit on for a period of not less than thirty seconds.
3.2 If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the point of the last touch, but only if that player has made at least eleven appearances in the last three months.
3.3 In all cases, all the other players of both teams must be at least 932.63cm away, the distance to be measured by the referee using an official FIFA-licensed tape measure and marked on the pitch using luminous orange spray.
3.4 If a dropped ball touches the referee and goes into the goal, the referee has scored.
4.0 Free kicks
The Committee has identified that allowing kicks to be free is a missed opportunity to generate more income from the game, and that kicks should be subject to a FIFA levy in future. This will be addressed at the next annual IFAB jolly, but kicks will remain free in the interim.
4.1 When there is a ‘wall’ of one or more defenders, the attackers are not allowed within 602.7659cm of the ‘wall’, the distance to be measured by the referee using an official FIFA-licensed tape measure and marked on the pitch using luminous blue spray.
4.2 Any attacker less than 602.7659cm from the ‘wall’ when the kick is taken will be penalised by yet another free-kick and a smack across the face. The player will also have an Alan Hardy penis drawn on his back using luminous green spray.
5.1 The team’s penalty taker can have a quick drink and a sandwich before taking the kick, but not once the player has commenced their run-up.
5.2 The goalkeeper must not be touching the goalposts/crossbar/nets/their private parts/or be standing on their head when the kick is taken.
6.0 Goal Celebrations
6.1 Any player suspected of being happy after scoring a goal shall receive a yellow card.
6.2 Any player found to have incited delight in any spectator in the same way shall receive a red card and may result in their team’s next match being played behind closed doors in Copenhagen.
7.1 Any player suspected of breathing during play will receive an automatic yellow card, unless the referee is Mike Dean when the card shall be a theatrically flourished red.
7.2 Two red cards for breathing in the same season shall be punishable by a three-game suspension and a fine not exceeding Є1 million. Cheques shall be made payable to Herr S Blatter.
8.0 Looking At The Referee
8.1 Any player deemed to be looking at the referee during the course of play shall receive a yellow card.
8.2 Looking at the referee in a derogatory way shall be punishable by a red card and three days in the stocks outside FIFA headquarters in Zürich.
Try to enjoy the coming season despite all of this.
Love from your best pals at FIFA(Financial Inducements For All).
OK, does anyone think this is ridiculous?
It may be an exaggeration but there is a serious aspect to all of it.
Personally, I feel very sorry for referees and linesmen in today’s game because they have an impossible job to do. It always was a hard job but it has been complicated beyond the point of human capacity by a deluge of rule changes that simply were not required. Quite why the football authorities believed any of it was really necessary is very hard to establish. I would wager that not even they could tell us.
Take offside, for example: the old rule was that there must be a minimum of two defending players including the goalkeeper between the goal and the attacker at the time the ball is played. What was wrong with that? It was straightforward and everyone knew where they were. Since then, we have seen lots of silly little rules introduced in a foolish attempt to ‘clarify and improve’ the game. Is the player interfering with play? What the hell does that mean, exactly? Is that player within the immediate vicinity of the goalkeeper? Is that player in the goalkeeper’s line of sight? Or within his peripheral vision? How can the referee and his linesmen (sorry, assistant referees) really tell? All those rules have done is complicate matters to the point at which more controversy results, not less.
And what about handball? It used to be considered handball if the player had handled it deliberately. Again, what was wrong with that? Now we have a plethora of stipulations surrounding the position of the arm, the position of the hand, the distance from the ball when struck and more minutiae. Again, confusion reigns and controversy becomes the norm.
The main problem is speed. Even in the lower divisions, the game is played at a hundred miles an hour which gives referees very little chance of getting everything right. Even a fool can see that the rules are crying out for simplification, not further complication, yet IFAB continues happily on its deranged way.
No longer do referees have little chance of getting it right: they have no chance at all.
Yet IFAB’s imbecilic reaction to over-complication is to introduce even more rules to correct it. They defend that philosophy by claiming that everyone wants consistency between games but that is foolishly misguided. Every game is different, so how can it be possible to homogenise them? Is that really desirable in any case? Do you want to see essentially the same game week after week?
And now they have decided that the way to impose and apply all those unnecessary rules is to have a room full of extra referees a hundred miles away to assist the on-field officials with their decision-making. How crazy is that, on a scale of one to ten? Definitely an eleven. And while these extra referees play and replay the footage to their little hearts’ content, everyone at the ground is standing around looking at each other and freezing to death. The natural result is that the flow of the game is fatally interrupted and we have a staccato ballet dance instead of the fast exciting sporting spectacle everyone has paid an excruciating amount of money to see. How crazy is that, on a scale of one to a hundred? A thousand, at least.
The inescapable conclusion is that myriad superfluous rules have turned referees into confused card-waving zombies. Everyone from the youngest supporter to the most experienced player is confused and bemused by the sheer weight of rules. There are simply too many of them, and they are already too complex. All that happens is more controversy is created and Monday Night Neville has more rubbish to analyse ad nauseam in his strange nasal accent.
FIFA’s ultimate ambition is to control every game played anywhere in the world from its plush (presumably padded) headquarters in Zürich. Before we know it, every game will be identical in every way and will contain two goals, nineteen offside decisions (thirteen determined by VAR), three penalties (two from VAR), two disallowed goals (one from VAR), eighteen yellow cards and five red cards (seven if the referee is FIFA robot Mike Dean). Every game will last five hours and thirty-three minutes to allow for VAR stoppages. Every game will be televised somewhere or other, and another 22,896 former players will find jobs as pundits. FIFA will pat itself on the back and rake in more huge sums from the broadcasters. Then it will direct IFAB to make some more rules.
Whatever happened to football as it used to be? Was it really that bad, that it had to be turned into this circus?
The sad truth is, the addition of all these extra rules has already ruined football as a spectacle. The game no longer flows in the way it used to, and that is a crying shame. Brian Clough once said that football is a simple game complicated by coaches. Forty years on, football is a complicated game ruined by IFAB.
And it is about to get worse. Have fun, everyone.
Who did our members consider to be March’s star players?
Player of the Month for the second time this season is TOM PETT after scoring at least 7.00 in four of his five appearances this month (he was awarded 6.95 in the other one). That represents fine consistency from the skilful midfielder and a welcome return to top form after a couple of leaner months.
Second place goes to HARRY TOFFOLO who seems to be enjoying a more positive attacking role lately. Harry is the only ever-present in the City side this season, and is one of only thirteen in League Two.
Third place goes to the postman NEAL EARDLEY who scored his third goal for the club during March. All three have been spectacular efforts from outside the box, and his crossing has also been back to normal this month. It all bodes well for the run-in.
The average team score of 6.84 is the second highest of the season. Every player achieved well over the par score of 6.00, and Cian Bolger is entitled to feel particularly hard done by after finishing at the bottom with the ridiculously high score of almost six and a half. The individual average scores are all well within one mark of each other, indicating a run of excellent team performances throughout the month.
1. Tom Pett 7.27
2. Harry Toffolo 7.19
3. Neal Eardley 7.09
4. Danny Rowe 7.07
5. Michael Bostwick 7.04
6. Jason Shackell 6.98
7. Matt Gilks 6.81
8. Mark O’Hara 6.78
9. Harry Anderson 6.75
10. John Akinde 6.70
11. Bruno Andrade 6.69
12. Shay McCartan 6.57
13. Matt Rhead 6.51
14. Michael O’Connor 6.50
15. Cian Bolger 6.44
Individual ratings by match:
Forest Green: John Akinde 8.83
Yeovil: Mark O’Hara 7.07
Oldham: Harry Toffolo 8.25
Mansfield: Danny Rowe 7.85
Crawley: Tom Pett 7.90
Macclesfield: Neal Eardley 7.78
So where does that leave us regarding the current Player of the Season standings?
Our centre halves still dominating:
1. Jason Shackell 7.05
2. Michael Bostwick 6.97
3. Josh Vickers 6.88
Home Player of the Season
1. Bruno Andrade 6.96
2. Jason Shackell 6.95
3. Tom Pett 6.88
Away Player of the Season
We have a new leader this month:
1. Jason Shackell 7.17
2. Michael Bostwick 7.13
3. Josh Vickers 7.04
Player of the Month
August: Josh Vickers 7.33
September: Jason Shackell 7.47
October: Tom Pett 7.07
November: Michael Bostwick 7.42
December: Harry Anderson 7.37
January: Michael Bostwick 7.90
February: Bruno Andrade 7.42
March: Tom Pett 7.27
February Player Ratings: Why Football And Jenny Agutter Will Never Be The Same Again:
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City Football Club for the photograph!
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) April 10, 2019