You may still remember the unusual scenes from the end of the matches at the World Cup in Qatar. Referees followed FIFA’s instruction and set up matches by five, ten, sometimes more minutes to make up time for both the spectators and the teams. Moments when 2 x 45 minutes of normal playing time were not played due to injury, delay or VAR interventions.
In this year’s season, of which eight rounds are played, the most recognized league in the world, the English Premier League, also resorted to a similar experiment. The BBC server made a detailed analysis of what it did to the matches of Arsenal, City, Tottenham and other top teams.
The longest matches on the islands are no longer played for ninety minutes, but take more than 100 minutes. But the average setting is important – in the 80 matches played so far, the referees have added 11 minutes and 33 seconds.
This is an increase of three and a half minutes compared to last season, when there was no experimentation in such a distinctive “Qatari” way.
From this point of view, the record is Fulham’s match with Sheffield United, which the referee set by almost 14 minutes because defender Chris Basham was seriously injured during the match, reports the BBC.
Debates about whether or not to introduce clean time in football as well (perhaps along the lines of hockey) have been going on for years. Until now, tradition has always prevailed, now supplemented by attempts to stretch matches for a longer period of time at the end of both halves. Statisticians calculated that the average net time last season was only 58 minutes 48 seconds. The rest of the time the players lay down, waiting for corners, free kicks or free kicks to be played, referees examined video footage of controversial situations or on the pitch – as in Fulham – doctors or masseurs had to intervene.
When the Slavia-Sparta derby was played in the Czech Republic, which was closely watched and very fragmented, the clear time was only 37 minutes (!) in the sum of both halves.
There are plenty of reasons to think about better use of the time allocated for football, not only in England.
And what’s going on in the settings? The first eight rounds of this year’s Premier League have shown that goals are scored quite often. The scorers scored 32 of them, which is more than 13 percent of the total goals scored.
And also relatively twice as much as last season.
The BBC’s analysis points out that it is still too early to draw conclusions, but early findings show that the longer setup is going in the direction the competition management wants: more attractiveness, more goals – and thus little attention has yet been paid to the votes that should be investigated and the health burden of the players.