GLIST: Running the rule

With Jim Gavin tasked to head up a new committee to take a look at the state of football, Michael McMullan feels not many changes are needed but takes a look at issues for consideration.


ONCE the fourth official indicates how many minutes of stoppage time are to be played, timekeeping should be taken out of the referee’s hands.

When the clock ticks towards full time, it changes to a timer counting down from the length of stoppage time. The clock would then be stopped for any injury or stoppage time. Teams would be allowed 10 seconds for a free or kick-out before the clock is stopped.

This is easy to implement and allows a referee to concentrate fully on the rules in the crucial time when one incorrect decision could be costly. It would also make everyone in the ground fully aware of how long is left.

Mark it off

KEEP the mark from the kick-out as a reward for fielding and the skill of a ‘keeper floating his kick to perfection.

As for the advanced mark…open the bin, put it in and lock it closed. It was such a disadvantage to defenders that it wasn’t funny. We never want to see it again. Without it, referees have more time to focus on other rules.

How long?

IT has got to the stage that there must be much tighter handle on the number of steps taken. The ruling is four but we are seeing instances of players taking well beyond that. Like the advanced mark rule, if this is not policed tightly enough then defenders are at a disadvantage. From watching games, it can be very hard to count the steps – especially if it’s a speed merchant on the ball – but even if a player takes a fifth or even a sixth step there may not be the same level of complaint.

Tackle the tackle

THIS won’t be easy done, but a more defined tackle would be a welcome addition. It might leave it much easier for referees. The ball can only be played with the open hand by the tackler. Shoulder charges only. No push in the back. It must always be a precise flick of the ball. The better prepared teams are often getting a top level referee in to take charge of in-house games and for information sessions on the rules. We could trial a rule were only two players can surround the player in possession. It would help make the referee’s job a lot easier. Coaches may see the benefit in then having players free elsewhere to receive the ball if the tackle by one of the tacklers is successful.

Keep your trap shut

THE captain should be the only person allowed to speak to the referee. From chatting to a referee who has played rugby, he feels this is the way to go. The officials can make mistakes but if players have a gripe it should only be directed at their captain who can decide if it is something worth asking the referee to diffuse any aggression. To back up this rule, the penalty for anyone else speaking to the referee is to have the ball moved a full 50 metres forward. Once this is consistently enforced, peer pressure will soon lead to players insisting their teammates keep quiet. For repeat offenders, well their selection on the team should then come under the spotlight.

Black card ref

THE black card has been a success in some ways but the issue is in how it is administered. It should stay with Jim Gavin’s committee setting about helping its clarity. They could advise managers – based on their own experiences – to bring in referees to officiate in-house games with a full focus on the black card. In this case, with the help of video examples, referees could compare the black card incidents with proper tackling practice. Add in one more thing. For any black card incident in the final 10 minutes of a game, award a 13-metre free regardless of where the foul occurred. This is the time when it often pays to be cynical so there should be a proper cost with the opposition efficiently scoring a point from a close-range free.

Let the lads play

WHILE not an actual rule change, the committee should consider the following: a player not having played a single minute of inter-county action in two consecutive competitive fixtures being allowed to line out with their club in the next game.

It could be something agreed as part of any charter teams would have to sign up to. Playing at club level is never going to properly prepare players for the speed and physicality of a county game, but it might help to keep panellists further down the pecking order mentally fresh and more willing to stay on board.

Support referees

THE committee needs to also report back the issue of teams often not taking their oil for suspensions accrued. We all agree the rule book needs tidied up – a debate for another day – but we can’t keep on with the situation where everybody gets let off. If there is a mistake and a red card is going to keep someone out of a fixture, then appeals are very important. The problem is when referees feel they are not respected when suspensions are always overturned. A rule should be brought in to double a suspension if the appeal fails. It would make clubs think about their case before sitting in front of an appeal hearing.

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