The campaign to save time-wasting starts here. And would an All-Star game really be so awful?

·16-min read
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch points to his watch. Credit: PA Images
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch points to his watch. Credit: PA Images

There’s a warning in the Mailbox that we’ll miss time-wasting when it’s gone. Also: reaction to the All-Star suggestion; Potter’s first impressions; and Spurs’ squad.

Get your views in to


Dump Havertz
There’s one thing I hope Potter learnt from this evening and it’s to not play Havertz or Ziyech ever again. Is that two things?
Will cfc


Spurs’ strength
I mentioned recently that someone is going to have to do a position by position depth comparison for Arsenal/Man U/Spurs to show me where exactly their respective advantages in overall squad depth are (in response to various views espoused on F365 and elsewhere).

After watching the Spurs-Sporting highlights (I understand it’s not the full match but still) someone is also going to have to furthermore analyze Spurs’ football compared to the other top 4 competitors to show me why some people have them as favorites over others. Stop saying “Conte is a serial winner” (look at his CL record); stop talking about their depth (what would happen if Kane got injured? what about 2 of their CMs at the same time like we are dealing with now?); stop talking about last year (seriously, who cares – we’re clearly a team moving forward). Actually show me something…other than what looks like us playing with a back three 2 years ago – just with better players.
MAW, LA Gooner (Barry Fox said Spurs would win the league this year – never forget.)


Appreciation of a dark art
I’d like to thank James Outram for his letter on timewasting. He has successfully convinced me to change my mind and completely oppose any attempts to curb this deplorable practise. The 60 minute stop clock has been muted for some time and I’ve always nodded along with the logic and fairness arguments, always seemed reasonable. James has changed that. By the time I was done reading his rap sheet of time related crimes I had a broad grin on my face as I recalled countless occasions of sh*thousery.

Its not that I don’t find all this timewasting behaviour frustrating, I most certainly do, but therein lies the joy . When it’s an opposing player acting out these tricks I get worked up and I shout and swear and make obscene gestures and talk loudly to no one in particular about how footballers are panzies and they just need to get up and get on with it. Though when my team acts this way I know for certain there are fans out there going through the same grief and fury like I do and that makes me immensely happy.

I don’t want to give that up. Its part of the theatre, part of the game I love. I want the slow walking substitute being pushed off the field by the opposition captain. I want the aborted goal kicks and dallying throw ins. I want the excessive cramping and broken legs which heal with a whistle blow. I want the anger and frustration because it goes hand in hand with the joy and schadenfreude. If you take one away the other goes with it and what’s left is soulless.

We seem to be moving toward a more sterile technocratic version of football and in some respects that needed and welcome but I think we must also be very careful not to kill the drama in a quest for greater fairness. The game is absolutely fine at 90 minutes, just leave it alone.
Dave, Manchester


Timely suggestions
To Paul, Wirral’s suggestion of a stop-clock style timing, I say that while in theory this will negate the need to waste time, it may actually make the problem worse.
Time-wasting isn’t the only reason players hit the deck. Killing momentum is a major factor. Nothing takes the wind out of the opposition’s sails quite like 2 mins of standing around scratching their arses.
With a stop-clock do you really think our refs are going to do anything other than gesture that every second will be added if there’s a player dropping to the ground every 45 seconds? Of course they wont. Simeone’s 30 minute halves will last 90 minutes.

I’ve a few solutions for the matter.
Firstly, like Paul and previous mailboxer said, cramp doesn’t count. If I’m gassed and can’t catch my breath because I’ve sprinted the length of the pitch, I’m not going to get the game stopped for that, so cramp shouldn’t either.

Secondly, let the 4th official keep track of stoppages. Onfield refs have enough to keep track of and can suck at that. Why give them something extra to suck at? You can even let the managers know mid-game how much is currently due to be added for any tactical tweaks.

Thirdly, let the physios come on when play is unfolding if there’s a non-head injury and let them do an initial assessment. If a substitution is needed then the game can stop. Even let the game stop mid-action if an active attack is not unfolding. There’ll have to be caveats of course e.g. stop play if it’s a result of a foul, if it occurs in the goal mouth, or if the ball hits the physio etc but this works in other sports such as GAA and Rugby, I can’t see why it can’t happen in Football.

Fourthly, stop the game for a head injury in the same way it happens now, but how do we prevent people abusing this rule in the way Paul suggests (probably correctly) happened in the Liverpool v Ajax game last night? Give the fourth official a second stopwatch. Let the physio come on, do an on-field assessment and then bring the player off the pitch for further assessment. But we start the timer from when the play stops to when it resumes. And this should be the length of time the player stays on the sideline before he can be reintroduced. If the player is fine it should only take a quick few seconds, and he’s only missing a short bit of action. If it’s potentially bad, and it takes a 5 minutes before they can get him off the pitch, then – in the interest of the player’s welfare – there should be at least 5 minutes more of an assessment before he’s deemed fit to return.

Lastly, and I’m not even sure myself if this is tongue-in-cheek or not. But maybe put a basketball style shot-clock behind the goals for keepers to release the ball or to take their goal kicks. If a shot clock is too star-spangled for the English game, have the ref issue a short double-whistle to indicate that the keeper has mere seconds to act or give away an indirect free. But we know refs don’t count these seconds, so what’s the solution? You guessed it! Give the 4th official a 3rd stopwatch!

Some of these points may or may not be connected to my obsession with Flava Flav.
Big D, Luxembourg


…As someone else noted during the Liverpool Ajax game feigning injury is now an actual planned tactic to waste time.

They’ve also learned that holding your head results in the ref blowing his whistle.

Fakers do it a lot. The problem is you can’t say play on because what if it isn’t fake? No players healthy should be sacrificed for the flow of the game. So how do you deal with this?


Anytime the referee needs to stop play due to player injury, said player leaves the field for treatment for 10 minutes.

If the player is genuinely injured, no harm at all. He gets the treatment he needs.

If he’s faking he’s just given his team a 10 minute disadvantage. I imagine the injury faking would quickly stop.


…I recall when, as a young boy, having a kickabout with a mate of mine and his sister. We would play 1 v 1, with the third person being the referee/timekeeper. I remember when I had to keep time for the siblings’ game, me (at that stage predominately) being a watcher of the egg game, I used rugby’s method of timekeeping – stopping the clock every time the ball went dead. After what felt like a long time, the competitors were drenched in sweat and asked when the game ended. I looked at my watch. Still 3 minutes left of the 5 minute half.

Now, my point is simple. A quick google shows that a BBC study in May 2022 determined that the football, during the Premier League in 2021/2022, was only in play on average, for 55 minutes a 3 seconds, per match. “The lowest it has ever been” (since keeping record), shows that James, Wirral’s theory might be more than speculation.

In rugby, the halves are shorter than in footie, but the game lasts longer. Total play time of 80 minutes often exceeds 120 minutes’ broadcast time. Apply the same to football, all of a sudden, the Premier League can’t schedule games 2 hours apart. You’ll probably find that the halves have to be shortened to fit into the 2 hour tv timeslots.

In short, it is a terrible idea to stop the clock every time the ball goes out. Good thing everyone is entitled to their own tuppence.

Wik, Pretoria, (I’d rather have Klopp shouting at the officials and earning us Kloppage time), LFC


North v South All-Star Game: Man City, Arsenal trios make the teams based on match ratings


All Americans and All-stars
As an American, I question the headline of Ian King’s headline, “Todd Boehly and his All-Star comments fit the worst stereotypes of American owners”. The article is essentially giving credence to this stereotyping. Anti-american sentiment isn’t racism, but its also not nice and often not deserved (a few weeks ago playing football in London I was informed that I don’t properly know the rules of football because of my American accent. I’m a qualified referee!) I get that the stereotype has an element of truth to it, as is sometimes/often the case, but I still don’t see the value in giving these types of national or cultutal stereotypes a platform.

Moving on, Ian’s article conflates two separate parts of the idea:
1. Whether an All-star game would be a good idea
2. Whether revenue generated by this game would be invested into the football pyramid/grass-roots football

He cites Klopp dismissing the idea, without acknowledging that Klopp’s main argument against it was that the fixture calendar is already too busy. Reading between the lines, if you offered Jurgen a 4 month summer break each year in exchange for allowing his squad to play in an Allstar game, he would bite your hand off.

Klopp’s further point, also made by Ian, about whether it makes sense to group geographically rival clubs together is valid. Although as a counter-argument,
1. In the wake of Euro 2022 everybody was rightly talking about how nice it was to be less tribalistic. Maybe something like this would actually help reduce the tribalism in men’s club football over time. I’ve spent enough time in Liverpool and Manchester + spoken to enough northerners to know that there is genuine North vs South antipathy, if you boil away the club rivalries. The idea isn’t as much of a non-starter as it seems.

2. If not grouping by North vs South, it could be split differently. American allstar games are often pretty ‘randomly’ split, after all. Example:
Team A from Everton, ManUtd, Spurs, Chelsea, Nottingham Forrest, Newcastle, Palace, Brentford, Wolves, Southampton
Team B from Liverpool, ManCity, Arsenal, West Ham, Leeds, Leicester, Brighton, Fulham, Villa, Bournemouth

I am not generally in favor of the increased corportatization of sport, but I think this idea has a lot of appeal and I think the Premier League/other football leagues would be doing it already if it wasn’t seen as an Americanisation of the game.

Moving on to the point about revenue, I obviously don’t have the details available but I can only imagine Ian is right that a PL All-star game would not generate nearly as much revenue. I dont think Boehly said that it would. Reading his comments, he seems to be saying “if the football pyramid wants the PL to contribute X million more out of solidarity, the PL could fund that by doing an All-star game event”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand why this country expects PL clubs to subsidize the existence of clubs that barely anybody actually watches in reality – I’ve said it before but there were genuinely close to as many articles lamenting Bury FC’s liquidation, as the club had season ticket holders. If I, as a football fan who values the general principle of the football pyramid, don’t understand this, imagine what the owners of PL clubs think about the idea? It’s perfectly reasonable and rationale for PL clubs to brainstorm ideas of how to pay for the subsidies ‘you’ are asking them to provide.

Slight tangent, but this also all relates to why having an independent regulator would be such a good thing for football (rather than expecting rich football clubs to subsidize poor ones out of pure generosity).
Oliver (bloody clueless yank) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


…Aside from the fact that no one wants Todd Boehly’s All Star Game, and there is no room for it, there is a far more fundamental flaw: We already have All Star Games in the Premier League.

Historically, it was United v Arsenal. Or United v Chelsea. More recently, it’s been Liverpool vs Man City. The way that elite talent is gathered amongst the top teams means that we already get to see the best players in the league going head to head. Take Liverpool v City last year. How many players from other teams in the league would have made it into the starting XI? Not many. And even if they did, it’s hardly a vast improvement. Let’s say you pick Reece James ahead of TAA. It’s hardly an enormous upgrade, or something that would be hugely exciting to see.

American sports are different, because of the draft and the salary cap. The league’s top talent is far more evenly distributed. For example, in ice hockey you have 12 attacking players in the matchday squad. 4 lines of 3 players that come on and off throughout the game. Your top line is your elite attacking unit, your second line is still pretty handy. The 3rd line is more “do a job” type players and the 4th line are grinders (no, not like the app). Players who are defensive, physical, will fight and go up against the opposition’s top line. There are no teams who have elite, world class players all the way through from 1st to 4th line. They couldn’t because of the salary cap.

It’s therefore quite novel and exciting when the All Star Game comes around. Suddenly you’ve got all 4 lines being made up of elite, attacking players. It’s different from what you normally see. On top of that, because of the draft, almost every team tends to have a superstar. So the all star team is made up of players from all over the league. In the 2022 game, the most number of players from one team was 3. That just wouldn’t be the case in the Premier League where elite talent is gathered in a very small group of teams.

American sports teams, even the best ones, have a large number of players who are not elite or “world class.” They have to, because a squad of superstars wouldn’t fit under the salary cap. The top Premier League teams have world class players in every position. They’re already All Stars. We already have All Star games. We don’t need another one.
Mike, LFC, London


Mass debasing
When I first read the remarks by Boehly at the SALT talks, I wondered how he would get invited to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks – you know, the one to reduce and limit nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

However, it turns out this is about maximizing another weapon of mass destruction- money. Bizarrely named SALT, with no individual of it stands for anything other than perhaps trying rub shoulders a famous past name to enhance its standing. It’s essentially a forum to discuss ways to make more money.

Built on the idea of ‘Empowering Big Ideas’ this was the best Todd Boehly could come up with. Lordy. He definitely fits into the stereotypical of Americans who are all mouth.

Please shut up Todd.

And Lawrence, having owners like this is why people dislike Chelsea, not because they think they are special.
Paul McDevitt


…Is Todd Boehly’s suggestion of playing an All Star North vs South game stupid? Of course

Is is a better idea than the Charity Shield? F*ck yes
Monkey Steve


All Joe, aren’t we
Whatever level of football you’ve played at, we’ve all been there. You get picked to start an important game, it goes catastrophically badly and you and your team-mates know you’re largely to blame.
The next week you can’t play (or are dropped) and the person who plays in your position has a blinder, impresses everyone and scores the winning goal. We’ve all been Joe Gomez.
Paul in Brussels (love the guy really, he’ll improve)

Man City striker Erling Haaland scoring a goal Credit: PA Images
Man City striker Erling Haaland scoring a goal Credit: PA Images

Brain farts
Just watched the City match and felt enraged enough to write in. For 80 minutes City made over 500 passes without one shot on goal and Dortmund were looking comfortable at the back and dangerous going forward. Then their young inexperienced manager has a brain fart by changing shape and bringing on an additional defender. Their keeper then has another brain fart letting in a Stones shot that is straight at him and not hit particularly hard. Next to have a brain fart is the ref by completely forgetting about the high foot rule and allowing Haaland to volley the ball from 7 feet in the air. How many times do we hear commentators say, “you just can’t raise your foot in Europe”? And that’s for knee high challenges. I remember Nani getting sent off against Madrid for raising his foot shoulder height to bring the ball down with nobody around him but apparently we’ve all got to fawn at Haaland’s feet for his ‘acrobatics.” The final brain fart will be from the journalists who praise this City side as one of the greatest. They’re the most expensively assembled squad ever and they couldn’t muster a single shot at home against a Dortmund side that has to sell its best players every year. No wonder City’s ground is half empty for most games. Anyway here’s to Pep having his annual brain fart at the quarter/semi final stage and playing Haaland at right back.

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