Football: Outside Edge: Game of three halves coming soon

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The Independent Online
I SEE Pele and Sir Bobby were in Zurich last week to discuss the future of the game. Well, I hope they've done something about all these changes with which the authorities are plaguing us.

What is it with these football bods? Aren't they ever satisfied? Forever moving the goalposts, they are. Hell, it's easier to follow Ron Atkinson's holiday arrangements than all their rule changes.

You know the sort of things I'm referring to. Defenders interfering with play. Legalising shirt-tugging. Outlawing tackling with the feet. Why, I hear they're now even proposing a four-week winter's break. Brilliant, eh? And what the hell are we all supposed to do in the meantime? Drain the alligator swamp in Stanley Park? Learn to play the ukulele? I mean, come on!

Where's it all going to end? That's what I want to know. Exactly how is the ordinary supporter meant to keep pace? The next thing you know, they'll be banning glue and toilet seat sniffing from the referee's changing- rooms.

And then where will we all go?

And don't give me all this "what about the changes in rugby union?" caper either. They've all got PhDs, for God's sake. Not to mention Bill McLaren as interpreter. It's a piece of cake for them.

#But for us?

Well, put it this way. All the lads near me are having to fork out for new rule books. They're not cheap either. There's so many changes and crossings-out, the old ones are illegible. Even Mike, who sits behind us, is struggling to decipher all the scribbles. And he's an Egyptologist, just back from the Great Pyramid of Gazza, or whatever it's called.

Anyway, he's so fed up with it all, he's thinking of going back to search for the lost tomb of Ramsey the First. You know, 1966 BC and all that. And who can blame him either? The poor sod doesn't get a minute's peace when he's at the match. Pestering him all the time, they are.

And it's going to get worse, too.

In fact, someone was telling me there's another change coming out pretty soon. Quite a significant one, by all accounts.

Evidently, they're proposing to reduce fixture congestion by introducing three-sided matches. The basic idea is to use circular pitches with three penalty boxes, three sets of goalposts and so on. The upshot, so they say, will be a game of three halves and two half-times.

Now, I ask you. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? Are these guys for real?

I mean, why the hell don't they just use the existing pitches but mark them out differently. One team could play across the pitch; the other two lengthways. That way you could leave two of the goals exactly as they are and simply introduce an extra one on the half-way line. Just like at school.

But, oh no, that's too straightforward for the Football Association. Too much common sense involved.

You know what I say?

Bring back Graham Kelly. The guy may have failed the audition for The Chuckle Brothers but at least, though, he seemed to be in touch with the grass roots.

Which is more than you can say for the current lot.

Alan Edge is the author of `Faith of our fathers - Football as a religion'

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