As someone that watches a lot of football, both live at a lower level and televised at Premier League/Champions League level I feel that the game as a spectacle is becoming less about skill and attacking football and more about time wasting and cheating.
I know not all of the ideas below could be implemented but I feel they would certainly improve the game overall.
1) Every player to get a standard wage.
£500 a week in league two, £750 a week in league one, £1000 a week in the championship and £2000 a week in the premiership. That goes for every team and every player. The players wages would then be supplemented by win bonuses or goal/clean sheet bonuses – which can be as high as the clubs want.
This would mean the English league would still be able to attract top players to come here from abroad but that the players would have a vested interest in winning games and helping the team in the most effective way possible.
You play badly you get paid badly – bet Robinho would pull his finger out if he thought he wasn’t going to get all that cash.
Surely something like this HAS to be the way forward – I see no problem with players being paid extortionate amounts but only if they are earning their money.
2) If a player goes down injured and the referee hasn’t awarded a free kick but then stops play, the opposition get a free kick.
There are not many instances where a player is so badly injured they cannot continue or wait until the next break in play. I don’t recall seeing many in my two decades of watching football.
This would stop the now commonplace feigning injury to get play stopped – usually when the opposition are just about to mount an attack.
And none of this kicking the ball back to the defending team either. The opposition should take the kick as they would any other attacking free kick.
I can almost guarantee this would stop this nonsense of pretending you’re seriously injury when, quite frankly, you could sit/lay there as play continues and receive treatment the next time the ball goes out of play.
I’m not doubting that players do take a knock but it’s the fact the referee feels the need to stop play, usually denying the opposition a chance of scoring, that annoys me.
To add insult to injury upon play resuming with a drop kick the attacking team are expecting to return the ball to the defending team! I’m sorry why is this again?
3) Abolish youth teams for league clubs.
Now this is a controversial one but in the current climate the premier league teams just nick the lower leagues best youth players and then pay a nominal fee after a tribunal.
So my proposal is this.
Set up a proper system of leagues for UK schools similar to US colleges.
Youth players stay at their school teams until they are 16 (school leaving age) when they are entered into the annual draft if they wish to pursue a career in football.
Basically the league teams then pick players in draft fashion, up to 5 players per team over 5 rounds of picks.
So you would start with the teams coming up from the conference and then work your way through the leagues backwards from the previous years final positions (so that the Premiership winners pick last each round).
The players then sign a two year contract, without get out clauses, and move to that club.
If they are not good/fit enough for the first team they play in the reserves.
At the end of the two years the club they sign for has the option of extending the players contract for a further year or releasing them.
If they exercise their option at the end of that third year if the club and player cannot agree on a new contract the player becomes a free agent and can move to whichever club he wants.
I think this would spread the young talents across the leagues nicely and a minimum two year commitment with a third year option for the club would stop the players jumping ship too soon.
They really would have to prove themselves at the lower level to make the move to the higher leagues.
This plan would obviously involve a huge huge investment in grass roots football at schools in the UK so would never happen but I can dream
4) Reduce ticket prices
Ticket prices in the UK are a joke.
It is extortionate some of the prices that clubs, especially in the upper league charge their fans.
I’m not saying the league should control ticket prices but I feel there is a moderate solution.
Make one stand of the ground a standing terrace with minor amenities (ie very basic toilets and refreshments) and cap tickets at £15 per match.
Make it first come first served, maximum of four tickets per person and watch it fill up. Especially at some of the lower league grounds.
This will again never happen as the clubs are out to make money but I think it’s a nice idea.
I would rather have 18,000 fans at Millwall who have paid £12 a ticket than 9,000 who have paid £24 a ticket.
5) Get rid of penalties.
Let’s be honest here folks penalty shootouts are a bit rubbish.
So, I think a better idea would be to start extra time as normal and then once you get to 10 minutes the next time the ball goes out of the play each team have to withdraw 2 players. And again 10 minutes later.
Makes no difference if you’ve had players sent off – in fact it would make the team with less players go for it more before they are completely outnumbered! Or worse still the opposition are left with an empty net to take the win.
First goal wins it, which could be when it’s 11 v 11 or 5 v 5 – someone will score eventually to settle the game.
Obviously if it gets to the stage where it’s just the keepers that could be interesting
6) Introduce new technology immediately into games.
Within 10 seconds of a decision we can see a replay on TV – football should adopt a similar style to rugby in that if the officials are unsure on whether the ball has crossed the line etc he should signal to a fifth official watching coverage on TV who can confirm.
Play continues unless the fifth official decides it’s a goal in which case play is stopped and a goal awarded, if it’s not a goal play continues seamlessly.
Likewise with fouls, handball etc although this would be less problematic as play would’ve stopped anyway.
Referees do a tough job but that doesn’t mean they are the most important people at a game – take away some of the power that current rests on just one head (9 out of 10 times the linesman just agrees with whatever the ref says).
Which leads me nicely on to…
7) Retrospective bannings.
I’m not worried about hurting refs feelings. I couldn’t care less if they feel undermined.
If my star forward is injured for 9 months through a horror tackle why on earth shouldn’t the guy who’s put him out face a lengthy ban? Oh because the ref booked him during the game so we can’t change that decision.
This should come in immediately, allowing the authorities to upgrade yellow cards to red cards and vice versa.
8 ) Allow challenges on the goalkeeper at set pieces.
Now I’m not talking about a forward charging the keeper over the goal line or anything but something else I’ve noticed over the last few years is a huge increase in free kicks awarded to the keeper when a bunch of players go for the ball and he doesn’t get it.
I don’t think you can award a free kick for a keeper not catching/punching a ball can you? Well someone should let the refs we get know.
It’s ridiculous, the keeper is there to stand tall – the colossus at the back ready to defend the goal. Not wilt as the ball comes in because someone is “standing a bit near him.”
Let’s get a bit more of the hustle and bustle back in games – I’m not talking reckless, dangerous challenges or elbows but this is a contact sport so let’s referee it as such.
9) Do not pay players to play for England
I’m more of a club man myself but there is no question playing for your country should be an issue of pride not price.
If the players do well enough they will make money from sponsorship etc.
Playing for England should be about representing the masses of the country, making people proud – not about how much you’ll get if you make it past the quarter finals.
10) Make the FA Cup exciting again
First off all the league teams come in at the first round proper – forget all this third round nonsense. Let’s at least give smaller teams a chance of a giant-killing.
Revenue should be split by league. 50/50 if you’re in the same league, 75/25 is favour of the lower team if you’re in different leagues. Doesn’t matter who’s home or who is away.
No teams can switch ties to the bigger sides ground. It’s played as it’s drawn.
NO REPLAYS – soooooo boring, let’s get all the ties decided over that one weekend.
Stop hosting the semi finals at Wembley – it should be special to play there. 2 teams in each competition should play there not 4 teams.
And this last one is a bit controversial – take away the fourth place Champions League qualification in the Premiership and give it to the FA Cup Winners.
So there you have it, my outlandish (or are they? ) ideas for improving football in the UK.
Would love to hear what people think or if you have any ideas you would suggest?