Shoot-out row could lead to sudden death

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The Independent Online
SOME football matches could end up as seven-a-side sudden death games if a plan for a new way of making sure of a result in cup fixtures goes ahead.

The Football League has proposed that if a game is level after 90 minutes, each team will take off a player every five minutes for the next 20 minutes of extra time until they are down to the permitted minimum of seven per side. If after that the scores are still level - and, presumably, there are enough players with the strength to go on - another 10 minutes of sudden death extra time will be played to determine the winner.

While the idea would relieve players of the cruel burden of responsibility created by the penalty shoot-out solution currently in use, it would be a severe test of their physical endurance.

The league hopes to get permission from the Football Association and the international governing body, Fifa, to test the solution in the knockout stages of the Auto Windscreens Shield for Second and Third Division clubs, the final for which is at Wembley on 23 April.

David Dent, the league secretary, said: 'We would like to think that in a year or two's time we could say that it was this competition which pioneered an alternative method of deciding drawn games than the detestable penalty shoot-out.'

The league has not decided what to do if it is still a draw after the sudden death period. Two ideas have been put forward. One is to continue play until a goal is scored. The other? A shoot-out.