Stop clock: Time for football to step up
Among several intriguing aspects the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has thrown up is the huge amount of extra-time being played. It highlights that football really needs a stop clock.
In general, additional time riles fans, be it watching in person or on the TV.
So much aggro in football comes because we, the viewing public, think referees are adding too much or too little time.
As a rule sports fans do not trust referees. This default position means they are met with a barrage of whistles and abuse as the game nears its conclusion.
This World Cup opened with nearly 30 minutes extra in the England v Iran match. Albeit in this case it was mostly down to injury, the trend has continued.
Referees are stopping their watches for goal celebrations and, pleasingly, time spent rolling on the floor. Players this is, not the ball.
Football itself is a bit of a pantomime so this move is welcome.
Sizeable amounts of additional time shouldn’t be seen as exceptional. And it’s again over to another sport – rugby – to hold up as an example.
A stop clock has been used in rugby for years. Spectators know exactly where the match time stands and there is little complaint.
The full 80 minutes has to be played and fans know exactly when it is up. So it’s high time football followed suit.
What’s stopping a stop clock?
Football has an obsession with having to be fast. The theory is fans will lose attention if everything isn’t performed at pace.
So many times, I hear people say: “It’ll stop the flow of the game”. What flow would this be? I guess it’s that thing being interrupted every 15 seconds by feigned injury and mastery of the ‘dark arts’.
The Premier League stat that the ball is only in play for 55 minutes is criminal. Consider how much money fans fork out in these lean times and it’s beyond a rip-off.
I mean, what are we paying for? The chance to see a multi-millionaire yelping and clutching his face when he’s actually been kicked in the shin, possibly.
A hope is that eventually footballers will lessen their play-acting as they know it will be added on at the end. A player who goes down will be putting his team under the cosh later on.
But whether a stop clock will arrive in the Premier League soon is another question. The time it took to adopt goal-line technology was one thing. Installing the dreaded VAR, well…
For a sport keen to promote itself as being at the cutting edge, football drags its feet where invention is concerned.