Would the presence of a timer for stoppages have a positive impact on football? – Part 5
Substitutes and balls cleared into the stands aside there is not much in rules that forces the game to restarted overly quickly, and it is largely up to the referee’s discretion to do so. If the referee wants a frenetic free flowing game then the referee may allow free kicks to be taken quickly, warn time wasters early in the game and be more lenient on 50/50 fouls. If a referee wants a slow, very controlled game then they would do the opposite to that listed above. Let’s look at free kicks first. Free kicks according to numerous studies are the single biggest cause of lost dead ball time.
Free kicks often require the ball to be fetched, placed then kicked forward if it is in the defensive half. Occasionally an annoying opposition player gets in the way or the goalie will take the kick if getting players forward is the main objective.
In the offensive zone however, this process is infinitely longer. The center backs who are usually the taller players lumber forward to take their positions whilst the kick is usually taken by the dead ball specialist in the team and more recently has at least a left and right footer standing over it. If the ball is within 30 yards then there is an additional amount of time for a minimum 2 – man chat of who is going to take it. From a defensive point of view an opposition player usually stands right over the ball and waits for the referee to mark out 10 yards from the ball that players have to stay out of. This is compounded further if the goalkeeper must set a wall and the more people in that wall the more time it takes to set up.
But what if there was a time limit on how long teams had to take a free kick. Currently the average amount of time it takes to take a free kick is 30 seconds. With an average of 20 fouls per game this adds up to around 10 minutes of wasted time. By dropping this time to a fixed 15 second cap you would instantly reduce the amount of time lost by 5 minutes.