The only way to save football, ‘joke’ handball rule and more mails…

Date published: Monday 26th April 2021 2:42 - Editor F365

Keep your mails coming in to…


Let everyone have their cake and eat it…
There seems to be an opinion that docking points or threatening relegation may make the owners of the Dirty Six sell up and finally be gone.

I’m no Richard Branson, but surely even a temporary blip in league position is just a small wobble in the cash cow that owning a premier league club appears to be. You could argue that with FFP being a bit of a farce, even the punishment of relegation can be swallowed as you would expect the team to be back in the premier league the following season, although if all 6 were relegated that would make things a lot more interesting!

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it would require a sustained and significant dent to the teams finances to incentivise the owners to cut their losses and sell up. Even if this were possible, all it would do is hasten the clubs to leave and create their own league, to hell with the fans.

Surely the ONLY way to fix this problem is by letting everyone have their cake and eat it. In other words, the owners get to keep the club and make profit, the fans are involved in some decision making, and the football pyramid is preserved… and all these things can be delivered with the 50+1 model. And the only way we can do that is through actual legislative change.

So how we do achieve it? It wont be easy, but if I had to make it snappy i would imagine we have to:
1. Get together
2. Get smart
3. Get political

Get together: We are all in it together. The tribalism has to stop. There may be circumstances where fan groups need to represent the opposition together. There may even be instances of fans having to buy shares in rival clubs to ensure adequate fan ownership (who can afford £2bn to buy half of Manchester United?)

Get smart: target the things that are actually likely to work and apply pressure. Forget pushing for points docking and fines. Mobilise fans, speak to finance types to set up investment funds to ensure the fans can act quickly to buy out shares if legislation falls in place. These actions also show intent and likely to make the owners more nervous.

Get political: write to MPs, get online petitions out there, make it a vote winner.  Labour must surely see an overlap between football enthusiasm and sections of the red wall they lost in the last election. The Tories must see this as a way of holding onto many of the new voters they gained recently. Promote the narrative that this is a cultural heritage that requires protection and put pressure on the relevent ministers.

It’s a massive task but fines and point deductions wont do the job in my opinion.
Samwise, MUFC


Slow mo the real enemy
I’ve written in a few times on VAR and always made the point that the origin of the problem with VAR is the slow motion replay. It is quickly becoming the hill that I will die on. The Balbuena red card is what I am talking about. He kicks that ball. His leg has to land. Chilwell has every right to try and block but, in doing so, ends up in the space where Balbuena’s leg is going to land. It’s a risk that Chilwell is taking and he ends up getting a knock. unfortunate but part of the game.

Watching in real time, I felt for both players. Balbuena can’t do anything to avoid Chilwell’s calf because of the speed they are both moving at. Chilwell is trying to block the clearance. Neither man has done anything wrong and I understand why Chilwell goes down because it would have hurt.

But when you look at it in slow-motion, you could be fooled into thinking that Balbuena has plenty of time to avoid Chilwell. Or that he consciously aims for the leg. Add in the eagerness for the lads in VAR to get involved. And then there is the implication of the ref being asked to look at the monitor, that they have missed something or made a mistake that they have a chance to correct. Put these things together and you get this red card.

So I’ll say it again. Get rid of VAR. Get rid of slow-mo replays. Allow the game to be ref’d as it happens, at the speed that it happens. It won’t eradicate mistakes because there is still a level of human error. So we all need to stop being dickheads about decisions that don’t go our way. Most of this stuff is subjective anyway.
Kev (It was slow-mo all along. Even when it was VAR I knew it was slow-mo)


Why the handball rule is a joke
The handball rule is still a joke, especially the part about not being able to have the ball hit you accidentally like in the Liverpool Newcastle game.So imagine this scenario, attacking team plays a ball into the box, defending team manage to get something on the ball, not much, but enough to deflect it onto another player. What happens next?It hits an attacker accidently on the arm and goes in – Offense Committed – No Goal, free kick to the defending team
It hits a defender accidently on the arm and goes in – No offense Committed – Goal
It hits an attacker accidently on the arm and goes wide – No offense Committed – No Goal, Goal Kick
It hits an attacker accidently on the arm and falls to another attacker who scores – No offense Committed – Goal
Not only does the outcome depend on who it hits but what happens next.So what should have happened in the Newcastle game after it hits Callum Wilsons arm is that he should do everything possible to stop the ball crossing the line, then either find a teammate to score or try and smack it in off a defender thus causing an own goal.

And if he goes down the own goal route, the ref then has a decision to make, was Wilsons shot going in, in which case he should disallow the goal, or was it going wide and therefore a “real” OG, in which case he should allow it.

Obviously this is all crazy talk but I’d love to see this happen, preferably in a World Cup final and then watch as the footballing world collapses into a black hole.

Happy Monday


To Mat, pissed off Leeds fan – you may have a point about Sunday’s game, I didn’t see it, but the fouls conceded count finished Leeds 21-11 Man Utd. 21 seems a big number of fouls btw! But next you dropped Liverpool into the conversation and as a Red, I felt that Liverpool tend to concede more fouls than their opponents most weeks, so I took a look on Against Newcastle we conceded 9 fouls to their 7, this despite having a whopping 69% of the ball!

I next took a look at Leeds v Liverpool and what did I find? Leeds conceded 7 fouls to Liverpool’s 15! Not quite the big 6 bias you were assuming? I went back a bit further just out of interest and here are the numbers for Liverpool (fouls conceded, not won remember): LFC 16-11 Villa, Arsenal 10-10 LFC, Wolves 17-10 LFC, LFC 10-8 Fulham, Sheff U 9-9 LFC, LFC 10-10 Eve, Leic 7-6 LFC, LFC 13-8 Man City, LFC 12-6 Brighton (63% of the ball there for the Reds too!)

What all this means, I don’t really know but there’s certainly no bias towards Liverpool in the data there. If anything it feels like there’s a bias towards the smaller/lower down the table teams. Perhaps a bit of an ‘evening-up’ by allowing them to get away with a little more when it comes to what is considered a foul. Or it could be that Liverpool go for the tactical foul when they lose the ball high up the pitch trying to prevent the break. Possibly a little from Column A, a little from Column B.

Whatever, but you would have to work damn hard to show me ANY bias towards Liverpool in terms of officiating this season. To the contrary it feels that every marginal decision has gone against us.
Vinny (LFC)


Newcastle United Liverpool


ESL fallout
Interesting reading the debate on the ESL fallout and punishments. As a Chelsea fan who stands to lose, it’s very clear that there need to be consequences. To my mind, I’d like to see:

– 1. Reset all the UEFA coefficients of the breakaway 12 to zero. Beautifully symmetrical – you get to stay, but now compete without any built-up advantages

– 2. Have the 12 clubs compete in Europe, but forfeit any prize money they make. Give all that money to the football league pyramid as “solidarity payments”. Add some fines if you feel like it, but make sure it all goes back, not just to UEFA

– 3. What I’d love as a punishment is this – “You want to play each other lots of times? Fine – for the next two seasons we will fix it so you all play each other in the group stages of the Champions League, and all draw each other in the first round of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup”

– 4. Have all 6 English clubs join the FA Cup at the 1st round

– 5. The 50+1 model sounds to me unworkable in practice – you can’t just steal multi-billion pound assets off billionaires (it would be illegal), and it’s hard to see how Man Utd fans would really raise 2BN to buy out the Glazers. Only options, therefore, would be either a forced floating of a % of the company (but you couldn’t insist that fans bought those shares), or more practically a “fans council” similar to the “workers council”. The government could easily do that, and then require this group sign off on major strategic decisions (though it would set an interesting precedent for the rest of industry!)

– 6. Classify football clubs as “national heritage institutions” (not sure if that’s the right technical term) that would put additional requirements on the clubs before they could materially change what they do (this would put in place a legal barrier to anything like this in future and remove the bargaining threat). That’s legally easy enough for the government could do

I don’t think points deductions would be fair from a sporting perspective (unless they applied to next season), because they would be disproportionate to those involved – e.g. in England you could take 10 points of Man City and they still win the league easily, whereas it would disproportionately hit the three London clubs and Liverpool. Banning the clubs from Europe altogether would be too costly for UEFA, and neuter next year’s Champions League too much.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore


Football as a business
If there is one thing that the ESL week has clarified, it’s that all the supposed free-market capitalist club owners are actually rent-seeking leeches just like the rest of the late-stage capitalists plaguing the world. They’re all for free markets when it’s going well, but want government/public money to prop them up when it doesn’t. Privatise the gains and nationalise the losses. Use financial capital as a weapon to steamroll over the competition. There is no business in the world where you can get a guaranteed return in a competitive market, unless you can rig the game in your favour, and football is no exception.

If there is a real desire to run football sustainably, with regular revenues that are relatively independent of on-pitch success, it can only work if more clubs are covered by that safety-net, not just the 15 at the very top. It means that every competition has to share it’s revenue more evenly so that all the competitors have a minimum guaranteed income that is enough for them to compete with. It means that the competitions at the very top of the pyramid have to pass a significant part of their income down the pyramid, not as a charity but as an insurance premium.

Unfortunately we all know that for all the posturing by the superleague clubs, it is not about saving football. It is not about the sustainability of the pyramid, or any of the other bullshit they spout. It’s all about their own guaranteed revenue. The super league will be back, not with a big bang but with continued nibbles here and there. The new Champion’s League UEFA announced is yet another step in that direction, and for all UEFA’s posturing, their real objection to the super league was that it cut them out of the financial loop. They don’t care about giving teams guaranteed places, they just slip in in through a back-door instead of highlighting it. As long as they have their cut they’re fine. The game is already rigged and has been for a long time.
James, Switzerland


Had enough of the hypocrisy of UEFA/FIFA
Ceferin’s comments about players taking pay cuts if they are not happy with playing more games pretty much confirms UEFA are motivated in exactly the same was as the Super league group. The comments are a direct response to the likes of Gundgan, Milner, etc commenting that there should not be an increase in the number of games currently in the calendar.

The fact that the organisation running the game so aggressively stamps on any player comment shows they have zero regard for player welfare, which in turn means they have no regard for the quality of football that will result.

The control of the game needs to be taken away from these unelected suits back to players and teams. UEFA/FIFA have been able to successfully mismanage pretty much every aspect of football except one. They have failed to deal with racism, with technology, with financial doping, with agent activity, internal corruption and awarded the World Cup to Qatar, who have managed to kill around 6000 foreign workers in preparing for the event. I scratch my head and think what have they actually done? What they have done very successfully is enrich themselves. The likes of Blatter, Platini, Jack Warner are only the ones who were caught.

We need a new structure that runs the game that’s transparent and has a clear and sport focussed constitution.
Dale Marlow


Glen, thank you! I was so sick of hearing about Laporte.  Why Tyler and Neville didn’t even mention the other fouls in that half that escaped punishment is beyond me, you hit the nail on the head.
Matt, MCFC, Brum.

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