Saturday, September 16, 2006


I recently had a whinge about the dearth of ballboys at most of the eL games that I attend. Ridiculous situations were presenting themselves as goalkeepers went to retrieve balls resulting in unnecessary delays. A cursory study of the systems employed at tennis matches suggests that it is not a situation which would be difficult to overcome.

This led me to concern myself about the general level of stoppages in a match. So, sitting back in my lovely new walkthechalk t shirt, I decided to record all instances of stoppage in the St. Pats v Shels game on 15/9/06. It seemed to me to be a game like any other.

Three bookings, no inordinate delays for injuries or major incidents, four goals and five substitutions. There was no obvious time wasting as both sides were in the running until late in the game. So it seems fair to accept this as a fair representation of an eL game upon which to base figures.

A stoppage is defined as the time from the referee's feadog stopping play to the moment of resumption i.e. bookings, free kicks, corners, wides, throw ins, goals, injuries and the attendant delays around same. In the Pats v Shels game there were:-

1st Half 63 stoppages: Added time 1 minute - Ball out of play: 18m 09secs
2nd half 67 stoppages: Added time 3 minutes - Ball out of play:19m 07secs

Total 129 in94 minutes: Ball out of play total: 37m 16secs
Stoppage on average every 43.7 seconds.

These are the bald facts. Those of you who want to immerse yourself in details can look to the bottom of this blog. I don't suggest that the referee is to blame; this I suggest prevails through all football. Surely we must find ways to negate such delays and improve the spectacle for the customer. Here's where I get all American on this shit.

What if? From the time a ball is designated wide by the referee the 'keeper has say 10 seconds to return it to play or his side forfeits possession. Likewise at free kicks and corner kicks. Simplistic, but the beauty of football is it's simplicity.

Can the referee keep such a count? Not easy as I discovered while noting these stats; but he has a 4th official, who can have access to a horn which will scare the bejasus out of everyone in the ground when it goes off and increase the tension and excitement in a game. Discuss.

Stoppage details here

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