10 Ways To Make Football Better

FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes the case for larger goals...
Here at GSN Towers we love all sport. However, we have to admit that football (soccer) has a special place in our hearts.

Despite our love of the game, and the fact that it is by far the world's most watched sport, we think it can be improved. Especially if it’s prepared to learn lessons from other sports.

So, with the World Cup just round the corner, here are Ten Ways to Make Football Better. They've generated a lot of debate internally and we'd love to hear what you think!

1. Make the Goals Bigger
We know this is a controversial one to start with - but we think it’s one of the simplest ways to increase the numbers of goals scored. Something that we believe is both necessary and highly desirable given that World Cup scoring has decreased from a high of 5.4 goals per game in 1954 to a low of 1.56 goals per game in 2010. (In the English 1st Division / Premiership, 4.63 goals per game were scored in 1889-90, 3.95 goals/game in 1930-31 and 2.77 goals/game in 2013-14. The low of 2.36 goals/ game was in 1970-71.)

But isn't that just artificially tampering with the rules to make the game more exciting? Not really when you think about. The current size of the goal was standardised a long time ago when goal-keepers (goalies) were, on average, significantly smaller. Increasing the size of the goal would simply take us back to the original goalie – goal ratio.

2. Use Video Technology to Help the Referee Get It Right
There’s been endless debate about goal-line technology and, finally, we’re seeing some action on that front (although why it couldn’t have been done years ago using TV cameras is beyond us.) However, there are still so many important decisions that cameras could help with - penalties, off-sides, sending-offs. Yes, it’ll take some experimentation to optimise the use of technology so that it doesn’t spoil the game. However, it’s got to be better than the current situation where referees, despite their best efforts, make so many crucial errors.
For those who disagree, take a look at the many other sports that use video technology to help referees - cricket, rugby union and league, American football amongst them. It’s not always perfect but it is a lot better than not using it. And it also makes the life of the referee a lot easier and less subject to abuse.

3. Introduce Sin Bins
One of the anomalies of yellow cards is that the team that's fouled against doesn't benefit much from yellow cards. In fact, if the yellow card contributes towards a suspension in a later game, then arguably their competition benefits more.

Sin bins in place of yellow cards would sort out that unfairness. It would also introduce another variable in the game that would require players to think on their feet and would lead to more attacking play by one team and possibly a greater chance of goals.

4. Introduce Bonus Points
A number of rugby union competitions have bonus points for the number of tries scored and close losses - with the effect that there's almost always something to play for throughout the whole of the game. Football could do the same thereby incentivising both teams to try to score for the full 90 minutes.

Wouldn't that mean completely changing the whole points system? Yes. Points for wins and draws would need to be increased - to, say, 5 for a win and 2 for a draw - so that the overall result retained its primary importance. However, if it encourages both teams to attack then we think it’s worth it.

5. Make the Live Experience Better - and Cheaper!
Obviously the live experience varies from country to country and even from ground to ground. However, there are some basics that all grounds should adhere to; you should be able to see the match; getting to and from the ground shouldn't be an endless assault course through traffic and queues; you should be able to buy edible food and something to drink at half time without spending hours in a queue; it should also be possible to go to the loo at halftime. And all this should be possible at a price that bears some relation to the entertainment on offer and the cost of the (many) alternative forms of entertainment.

And, yes, we know gate receipts are relatively unimportant compared to TV revenues. However, the live experience is what turns people from ‘interested’ to ardent fans of the game and is vital to football’s long term health. (It’s also hard to enjoy a game on telly when the stands are empty!)

6. Stop the Clock
Instead of the apparently random calculation of added-on time, why not stop the clock for injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations etc. In an instant you deal with all the current time-wasting tactics and it gives everyone a recognisable deadline to work towards.

Even better, once the 90 minutes are up, play on till the ball goes dead giving teams one last chance to score.

7. Make the World Cup Better!
Easier said than done but absolutely vital as the World Cup is still the ultimate global showcase for football.

But how could it be done? To make the games better - try a few of the recommendations in this article. To improve the choice of host countries? Reform FIFA so that football countries get chosen - countries where you'll get lots of fans creating an amazing World Cup atmosphere.

8. Scrap Financial Fair Play - and Redistribute Income to Increase Competition
The Financial Fair Play rules are no doubt well-intended but are likely to lock in the existing hierarchy where the clubs in the Champions League generate more revenue allowing them to buy/pay better players ensuring they'll remain in the Champions League etc.

The only way this cycle can currently be broken - via massive external investment into a club - will be much harder under the new rules. This means that the only potential winners of the major trophies come from a small self-perpetuating elite.

And while that's great for those clubs it’s BAD for football. We desperately need to even up the playing field so there's more competition, and hence wider spread interest.

We're admirers of the US approach where the weaker teams are given a helping hand to increase the level of overall competition. Given that we don’t have the draft in football - and that labour laws make it virtually impossible to dictate where players go and how much they’re paid – we’re going to have to look at the distribution of income. Obviously that's harder to do in a European league situation where there's relegation and promotion. But nevertheless it’s absolutely crucial to the long term health and growth of the game.

9. Reform FIFA
There's little need to add anything to the constant media coverage of the issues within FIFA and the need for reform. So we’ll just add that we don't believe many, if any, of the changes proposed in this article will see the light of day without FIFA itself being reformed.

10. Join In!
Let us know what you think about the 9 proposals above and then email us at info@greatestsportingnation.com with your suggestions on how improve the game.
Do you want to change the offside rule? Do you like referees using vanishing spray at free kicks? Anything as long as it means Sepp Blatter goes?
Send us your suggestions and the best one will become the tenth of our ten proposals - which we'll then be sending off to FIFA!