The Community Shield on Sunday saw an introduction of the Premier League’s new time wasting policy to English football.
The Community Shield is the traditional curtain raiser of the English football season. It’s also an occasion to trial and if you will, announce new refereeing policies.
There were a total of 13 added minutes after the regulation 90 in Arsenal VS Manchester City at Wembley. It’s a continuation of what we saw in the World Cup in Qatar.
Not only did the referee add on time for every stoppage in the game, he added time for stoppages within stoppage time. Let’s be clear – this is not a rule change.
These tools have always been available to referees, they just haven’t elected to use them. This policy shift may end up reducing time wasting, but will it be good for the game as a whole?
There is an argument to be made that it puts extra strain on the players. If Premier League games are ten minutes longer now, that’s 380 minutes over a season. 380 Premier League minutes is more than a lot of fringe players play over a season. It’s just over four extra 90 minute games for first team regulars.
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has made this point publicly. He is right. There are already too many games, and now they go on for longer. The risk of injury and fatigue is significant in the dying stages of games, especially if there’s ten extra minutes.
A further risk here is that you hamper the officials’ ability to feel a game. Some games are more intense than others, you cannot have rules that ignore context. Otherwise it starts to feel like mandatory minimum drug sentences. The skill of good officiating is not knowing the rules backwards, but to allow each game to develop naturally without it becoming all about the officials decisions.
Perhaps time wasting will be curtailed, and we’ll see the amount of added time balance out. Perhaps, as is their wont, the PGMOL will abandon their new policies after a few games of the new season. Either way, one to keep an eye on.