10 Rule changes I'd like to make!

Football as we know is a game with many subtleties and nuances, a game with many rules and regulations. Some of these rules have helped to make the game better but some however, are just plain stupid and make the game worse. Here are some rules I’d like to see changed and some I’d like to introduce.

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I’ve previously posted as to why I don’t want to see instant replay or goal-line technology brought into the game. I think the best method is to use the two extra assistants behind the goal that was used in the Europa League last season. It looks as though that system might be coming into use sooner rather than later anyway, so I’ve missed it off my list.

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I’m writing this from England so most of the rules I’m stating apply in English/UEFA competitions, so there is a possibility that some of these rules may already be different in your country/federation so apologies if that’s the case.

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Anyway, here’s my ten rules that I would change in football.

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1) Simplify the Offside rule
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Lets be honest, this rule is far more complicated than is necessary. It’s difficult for newcomers to the game (and many seasoned fans) to follow and needs simplifying. I’d propose you remove the phases of play rules and make it much simpler; you’re either offside or not. Another thing I’d like to see is this rule weighted to favour the attacking team, so clear daylight must be seen between defender and attacker for offside to be given rather than the marginal decisions made today. Also, if it’s obvious that an offside player is going to touch the ball, let the assistants flag earlier, they look a bit stupid having to wait until they actually touch the ball.

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2) Abolish Yellow Cards for taking shirt off/celebrating with fans and for taking freekicks too quickly.

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Are these really such grave offences that cards are required as an appropriate punishment? I’m not a big fan of extravagant celebrations but I think it’s wrong that a player can pick up a card and potentially a suspension for simply losing himself in the moment. Also, I hate seeing players booked for taking free-kicks to quickly. I think this rule is especially harsh as you are allowed, in certain situations, to take them as quickly as you like. What harm’s been done? Why isn’t it sufficient to just make them re-take it?

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3) Scrap the away goals rule in extra time
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CONCACAF has the right idea in not applying away goals in extra time. I am a big fan of the away goals rule but I think it is very unfair to apply it in extra-time. It puts the home team at a huge disadvantage and I think encourages negative play as the home team will try to defend for the duration of extra-time in fear of conceding a goal rather than going out to score. In my opinion the away goals rule should only count for the regulation 180mins over the two legs.

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4) Allow extra substitutions in extra time
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A lot of the time when you watch extra-time, the players are just too tired to play with any great intensity. Quite often nothing of note happens. If a team is pushing for and gets a late equaliser, taking the game into extra-time, they can be at a big disadvantage in terms of effort expended and also tactically, as they will probably have removed defenders for attackers (or if you are managed by Rafa Benitez, brought a full back on!) in search of that elusive goal. I believe allowing teams to make an extra substitute in extra-time will help improve the game as fresh legs can often bring an extra burst of energy and excitement into a game that’s petering out.

Remember the 2006 FA Cup Final? Extra time was a joke. The players were barely standing and just shuffled about waiting to take their chances in the penalty shootout. An additional substitution would have made all the difference to both teams and may have even changed the outcome. I think it’s an idea worth exploring.

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5) Punish diving/simulation more severely
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Diving/simulation is an embarrassment to the game. The authorities make noises about trying to stamp it out but never do anything. I’d like to make it clear I mean cases where players are blatantly trying to con the referee or other forms of cheating, rather than trying to avoid injury. The laws should be tightened up on what actually constitutes simulation, to stop teams using Israeli missile technology to show that a player, despite clearly looking to cheat, was minutely touched and therefore innocent. Players should be able to be punished after a game through video evidence and then suspensions.

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I’ve got a more extreme suggestion that will never be implemented. If a player is spotted cheating by a referee, the opposition is allowed to foul them once (no leg-breaking tackles or anything too extreme, but a good solid tackle is allowed) and it will not be called. The league’s divers would soon stop knowing someone like Martin Skrtel and Nemanja Vidic will get one free shot at them.

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6) Abolish automatic red cards for a professional foul
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The idea behind this originally was to punish a player who decided that giving a foul away was a better option that letting an opponent have a free run at goal. The rules have now changed to the point where some red cards are now for fouls that are more clumsy than malicious. I’d like to see that changed.

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In cases where a penalty is given, I think that is punishment enough. A goal-scoring opportunity was denied, but then given back by way of a penalty. I also think that if a professional foul is committed outside the box, a penalty should also be given.

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7) Ban Transfers of Foreign Players under the age of 18.

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I believe the current policy of top clubs raiding foreign academies for their best talent is wrong. I believe these players should be allowed to develop in their own countries and clubs. For all the players that do come and make it (Fabregas, Macheda etc.), may more don’t, and these players, far from home are just cast aside by the clubs and left with an unsure future at a very young age. If these players excel as professionals, then teams can buy them on the open market, which would compensate the club who had trained them. Legally, it will be hard to do this (any EU citizen has the right to live in any other EU nation), so what I’d propose is that rules are imposed on the academies themselves, limiting the number of new players they can register who had previously been attached to another club.

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This will also help national teams and league develop their own talent, which can only be a good thing.

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8) Reward goals with extra points
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I believe attacking play should be rewarded. Defensive tactics are now prevalent in the game with many teams unashamedly setting up to shut down the opposition rather than go for the win themselves. This was evident in the recent World Cup, where so many teams were happy to park ten men behind the ball, which ruined the tournament as a spectacle. I believe football should follow Rugby in awarding bonus points to sides who score goals- say four goals or more in a game gets an extra point.

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9) Mic the referees>>
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I think this is a great idea. There would be the big advantage of hearing exactly why a decision was given for a start, rather than having to listen to somebody in a studio who probably doesn’t know the rules of the game as well as a referee, speculate on a decision that he has had the benefit of several camera angles and slo-mo to help him make, rather than the split-second a referee has. This will hopefully help people appreciate what a tough, thankless job a referee has. Also, the RESPECT campaign was introduced by the FA in order to address this issue of referees being hounded by players and called every name under the sun. It has been ineffective so far. Let’s make a real difference by getting tough on players who abuse referees. Any player gets caught swearing at the ref should get an automatic one-match ban. Referees are mic’d up in both codes of Rugby and it works well so lets give it a try. There is a shortage of people who want to become referees, and this is threatening grass-roots football. People don’t want to become referees because of the abuse they get, even when refereeing little kids, as the kids and parents think it is acceptable to abuse the ref because they see the big stars on TV do it and get away with it.

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This actually was tried once in England for a TV show in a game between Millwall and Arsenal, only Arsenal neglected to tell their players referee David Elleray was wearing a microphone!

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnQ16KFDoA4"]YouTube- David Elleray wears a mic Millwall v Arsenal[/ame]

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10) Impose UEFA style touchline bans in the Premier League
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In the Premier League if a manager is banned from the touchline he can sit in the stands and communicate with his coaches. He would also be allowed to go to the dressing room and give team talks. In UEFA events, a banned manager cannot be inside the stadium at all and are not allowed to talk to their tam on match-day (unless you have a big laundry hamper!).

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At the moment here in England managers can pretty much say what they please about the referee, especially if you are called Alex Ferguson, as the punishment, if they get one, really isn’t that severe. Many managers choose to sit in the stands anyway, at lest for half of the game, as they feel as though they can get a better overview of the game. Banning them from the ground will make a real difference that will make managers from using the referee as an excuse to deflect from their own failings.

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Any ideas?