How to make football better

Most of the football world condemned Lord Mawhinney's proposal this week that draws should be followed by a penalty shoot-out with a bonus point at stake. But surely there are ways the game can be improved. We asked for suggestions
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Keep it 11 v 11 - Craig Brown (former Scotland manager)

I would be in favour of eliminating numerical imbalance when a player gets sent off. The crowd pay to see 11 against 11. That player's team could send on a substitute, but the opposing team should get a penalty-kick wherever the offence has occurred. Even if the indiscretion happens in the tunnel at half-time, a penalty could be awarded at the start of the second half. If you get a man sent off, you should risk losing a goal.

Stamp out the cheats - James Lawton (Chief Sports Writer)

Today there is one overwhelming problem - it is the widening gap between professional players and referees as reflected in levels of cheating. One initiative by the cash-heavy Premiership, and the Professional Footballers' Association, would be to devote much more effort to persuading ex-players to take up refereeing - that, and a much greater resolve to stamp out diving. Offending players should be told that they risk heavy suspensions when they are deemed, after careful analysis of video, to be serial cheats. Just like the back-pass in the Eighties, cheating, which includes outright wrestling in the box at set pieces, is threatening the future health of the game.

Reward attacking play - Ian Holloway (Plymouth Argyle manager)

I think what you have got to do is encourage attacking play, whatever the state of the match. If you allowed games to be settled by penalties, you'd have some managers who'd get a really good goalie, a tough defence, and they'd win the league without ever winning a game! I used to think that giving more points for an away win than a home win would be the answer, but then I realised that some managers would just try to nick a goal early and shut up shop for 80 minutes. The only way is to do what they do in rugby and that's to reward teams that keep on attacking so I'd give real thought to rewarding sides who score goals - say an extra point for every side that scores three goals in a game or more.

Use some techno - Phil Shaw (Football writer)

The debate over goal-line technology is a well-rehearsed one. But what about the other incidents that change the course of games, and sometimes of entire seasons? Referees are fitted with ear-pieces to liaise with their assistants; Zidane's headbutt on Materazzi might have gone unpunished but for such an intervention by a linesman. Why not allow the same means of communication between the referee and fourth or even fifth official, situated by a TV monitor? That way, mistakes like those made by Uriah Rennie at Newcastle v West Ham (Scott Parker standing offside as James Milner scored), Phil Dowd at Arsenal v Wigan (home goal wrongly disallowed, away penalty mistakenly denied) could be instantly rectified.

Allow physios to treat players while play is on - Neil Warnock (Sheffield United manager)

Let medical staff on to the pitch to treat players while the game is going on, as they do in rugby league. This would eliminate feigning injury and time-wasting. The game could still be stopped for head injuries, and where the injured player was in the way, but normally the play is elsewhere.

Give the referees space - Gordon Taylor (chief executive, PFA)

I would like to see referees having an imaginary radius around them preventing anyone getting near them, like a force-field.

Two referees - Andy Hinchcliffe (former England international)

If you'd asked me five years ago, I would have said no, don't change a thing. The traditions of the game have been there for a long time and for good reason. But the game has become so fast now that we need to give a helping hand to the referee. Something along the lines of a referee in each half of the field could work. It's ridiculous to ask a referee to keep up with Thierry Henry from one end of the pitch to the other nd so extra officials could mean instant, quick decisions are easier to make.

Cut the parachute - Andy Hunter (Football writer)

Ban parachute payments to teams relegated from the Premiership, and the Uefa Cup place on offer to those who fall at the first Champions League group stage. Both are rewards for failure and skew the competition in the Championship and the Premiership respectively.

Pink card for divers - Jason Cundy (former Chelsea and Tottenham defender)

A pink card, for people who dive. It counts the same as a yellow but, for a professional footballer, is much more embarrassing. Diving is the worst thing in the game and kids need to see it being punished otherwise it will only get worse. And when the referee misses it divers should receive retrospective bookings.

Dock points - Brian Viner (Sports writer)

With fines having become more or less meaningless, the authorities should reach for their ultimate sanction - the docking of points. Two sets of players in a mass brawl? Dock each team a point. Two managers in an unseemly touchline barney, ditto. Even cheating could be punished in this way. If Chelsea or Manchester United were in danger of losing points for every five instances of cheating verified by an independent video assessor, Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo would stop diving overnight.

Mike up referees - Glenn Moore (Football editor)

After a brief period in which the nation is outraged at the industrial language being broadcast it would reduce dissent, especially swearing. It will also enable referees to explain their decisions educating the public - and media.

Point to the system - Jason Burt (Football writer)

Playing for a draw is a problem and some managers make no apology for that. Going somewhere with the deliberate intention of playing for the final whistle and a point. Ambition needs to be encouraged. Perhaps a simple solution would be five points for an away win, four for a home win, two points for a score-draw and just one for a goalless draw.

Who needs penalties? - Nick Harris (Football writer)

Scrap penalties as a way of deciding matches. Penalty shoot-outs add drama but have nothing to do with football as it was originally conceived. Instead, at the end of normal time and extra time in any knockout event, the team who won the most corners should win. The point of football is scoring goals. You can only score a goal by attacking the opponents' goal. You win more corners when attacking.

Leave the game alone - Mark Lawrenson (Former Liverpool defender, BBC pundit)

Leave the game alone. Why do they want to keep tinkering with it? Why would you ever want to change something that's working? Anyone who witnessed the Tottenham-Chelsea game last weekend can see that it's right as it is. The trouble is there's too many men in grey suits with too much time on their hands.

Penalty points: Yesterday we asked for your views on Mawhinney's proposal. This is what you told us -

Football is not a "product". It is a sport, a game, a passion but not a product. It does not need "enhancing" by gimmicks. It is refreshed every year by promotion and relegation and the emergence of new players.The primary duty of the Football League Board should be the duty to preserve the integrity of the game and prevent it from being turned into a circus by well-meaning but misguided meddlers. The shoot-out idea is such an appalling violation of this principle that, even by proposing it for discussion, Lord Mawhinney has shown himself to be unfit for his position. - David Lilley, Wigan

I'd be totally opposed to this. Shoot-outs are only needed for practical reasons in knock-out competitions where endless replays cannot be fitted in. - Mr Niall MacSweeney

The proposal to abolish drawn matches would not be in keeping with the spirit of the game. However, if the result is a no-score draw neither team should be awarded any points. This would encourage attacking play. - Mark Rozycki

Football should never make rule changes to somehow influence the way the game is rated in the United States. So, quarters is a bad idea. In fact, anything which slows down the flow of the game is also bad. But to discourage dangerous play, a yellow card should mean a five to 10 minute absence from the field. - Jeff Knight, Oakland, CA

Penalty shoot-outs are too personal for a team game. A better solution is to play extra time with reduced numbers. Remove three players from each team and the offside rule. Remove another three after 15 minutes. At the end of extra time, if the teams are still level reduce the teams to two players, with a golden goal and no offsides. - Chris Phillips

What do you think?

How would you improve the game? Email us your thoughts on and we will publish a selection of the best responses.