Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha has backed proposals to radically redraw football rules and have games played over two 30-minute halves with the clock only ticking when the ball is in play.
The idea is among a raft of changes being put forward by rule-makers the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to reduce time-wasting and make games more entertaining.
“We need to change something in football to give the supporters more pleasure, and one of the ways to do that would be to have the ball in play more,” said the Portuguese coach, who is bemused that the multi-ball system isn’t used in Scottish football for that purpose.
“The last studies I read, right now for a high-intensity English Premier League game the actual time of the ball [being] in play is about 55 to 57 minutes, so with the changes it would be more.”
Caixinha believes the ability to break up play with stoppages, and so reduce the time a team has to keep out an opponent, has made football “more defensive and more physical”.
He pointed to the recent example of Andorra, understandably in being ranked 144th in the world, putting “about 20 men behind the ball” to frustrate his native Portuguese national side in a recent World Cup encounter.
“The evolution of football has come along with changes in the rules and for us as coaches that means we can look for new strategies and ways for the game to be played,” he said, with reference to the effect of recent alterations in the offside rule and for sanctions to deal with certain type of challenges.
These modifications represent only tinkering around the edges for Caixinha, though, and he is convinced football is lagging behind other sports when it comes updating and revitalising itself.
“The IFAB have been the ones across the rule-makers of all sports that have been the most traditional and against change,” he said. “For example, look at rugby. That has had such a progression and evolution. We haven’t had that in football, the people’s sport, because the rules have more or less stayed the same for ever.”
IFAB’s proposed changes are outlined in a strategy document titled Play Fair! Adopting two halves of 30 minutes with the clock stopped when the ball goes out of play is just one of several ideas put forward in an attempt to make football more attractive.
IFAB says the Fair Play! document has three aims – to improve player behaviour and increase respect, to increase playing time and to increase fairness and attractiveness.
“Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective [actual] playing time ie when the ball is in play,” IFAB said. “The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”
IFAB is made up of world football’s governing body, FIFA, and the four British home football associations and is responsible for making the final decision on law changes.