It’s no surprise players don’t want to do more work for the same money, but the FA’s new stoppage time rule is spot on

PLAYERS were not expected to cheer the FA rule that they are to do more work for the same money. No surprise here, then, that they didn’t.

On the other hand, spectators were expected to greet the new expansion of added time with smiles and applause. No surprise here, either. They did.

The FA has introduced new stoppage time rules this season

For once, the FA may bask in general approval — even though it amounts to  further interference in the grand old game.

The association, like the rest of us, have grown increasingly irritated by the antics of players feigning death throes in a bid to cut the time as, for one reason or another, they wish to frustrate the opposition. Or cheat, as it is also called.

Longer stoppages have spread like Japanese knotweed through the gardens of elite-level football.

This had been tacitly acknowledged by refs, who found that pointed glances at a watch stood not a chance of quickening anything.

They officiated in stadiums at matches expecting skilful football not grown men exaggerating or inventing injury.

Fans are cute on injury. They sense serious incidents. Otherwise, there is only one circumstance that  gets them wincing on the terraces — and we all know which part the ball struck. Tears in eyes and all that.

Matters that could be extended by time are as many as players’ ingenuity stretches.

Among the most guilty are keepers whose excuses for time-wasting are matched only by those of boys trying to avoid doing their homework.

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Especially when his team are one-up and under severe pressure.

Ball-in-hand as he visits practically ever piece of grass in his area, for a goal-kick he can take longer than a funeral cortege.

Then he might exchange passes between full-backs, centre-back and midfield while  his manager on the touchline signals, ‘Slow down, you dope’. Or something stronger.

A Premier League slide grandly entitled ‘Out of Play Event’ provides the average length of time for restarts.

The leader is ‘goals’, which take up 66 seconds and occur 2.7 times a match, while ‘injuries’ take 58 seconds and  occur 1.5 times.

The second stat is  surprising. I’d have guessed more and  longer breaks, er, events.

‘Fouls’ take up only 32 seconds while ‘penalties’ and ‘red cards’ are also close to a minute.

And so all these delays (events?) are to be added up and used to extend both the first and second halves, so thirsty fans will have to wait for a refreshing pint.

Added time rules have been changed to clamp down on time-wasting

The result of this, claim several top-level players, will be tiredness  — accruing until, at the end of the season, they will crawl into the tunnel on their knees gasping for water.

As well as league, Champions League, cup competitions, friendlies and internationals, the list of possible games is as exhausting to the brain as  much as to the brawn.

Now, measure their weariness against giving fans the Full Monty of time and you have a difficult question.

It might well depend on whether your team scored the winner in new added time — 11 per cent of goals are said to be scored in injury time — or lost crucial points in that period.

Overall, it seems to me, only the ‘tired players’ argument has much weight —  although quite a few wives would be brave enough to claim there is far too  much football already.

My view is that we should make every attempt to give fans value for money,  including added time.

My guess is that, like VAR, it will stick — even to the extent of official timekeepers.

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