More Time, More Football, More Complaints: Have The FA Got Their Timings Right?

Pep Guardiola and Raphael Varane have both voiced their concerns
12:00, 07 Aug 2023

All but two matches in England’s Football League on Saturday went beyond the 100 minute mark. It meant the fans in the stand were treated to more football for their money, and time-wasting on the pitch was clamped down on. 

But not everybody was happy with the change. Obviously it impacted those who had plans to catch trains away from the games. Sure, it doesn’t make much difference whether a 3pm kick off finishes at 5pm or 5.15pm, but when Ipswich Town’s Sunday 5pm game at Sunderland has 13 minutes of injury time, real issues begin for fans getting home. 

It’s worse when it comes to midweeks. Southampton's away trip to Hillsborough inexplicably kicked off at 8pm, rather than 7.45pm or 7.30pm. With the Carabao Cup in midweek, that should be a change in mindset when it comes to late kick-offs. 


It seems like a positive change on the whole, which should mean more time where the ball is in play. But it hasn’t gone down well at the very top. Pep Guardiola took the chance to moan about the amount of games his side has to play. 

"It's a question for big brain guys who decide these things," said the Man City boss. "It's a lot of games and every time you add eight or 10 minutes it's a… but listen, they never consult our opinions, the people in world football, managers or players."

That’s Man City who just returned from a pre-season tour in the United States. If Guardiola wants to moan, after historically significant FA Cup replays have been scrapped, whinge at UEFA for making a ridiculous Champions League group stage format will come into play next season. Have a go at your owners for scheduling needless pre-season tours to the far corners of the world. Don’t rob hard-working fans of watching football that they have paid for. 

Things stepped up a level on Monday morning as Manchester United defender Raphael Varane released a statement on Twitter that began:

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“We had a meeting last week with the FA. They recommended from the referees new decisions and rules. From the managers and players, we have shared our concerns for many years now that there are too many games, the schedule is overcrowded, and it’s at a dangerous level for players physical and mental well-being. 

“Despite our previous feedbacks, they have now recommended for next season: longer games, more intensity, and less emotions to be shown by players. We just want to be in good condition on the pitch to give 100% to our club and fans. Why are our opinions not being heard?”

Players’ well-being has to be considered and there are too many games in modern football, but stealing time from matches, rather than reducing the number of matches themselves, is not the right way to go about things. Also, if players stop time-wasting, the added time will decrease, it’s as simple as that. 

Stop going on stupid pre-season tours and stay closer to home. Stop allowing UEFA and FIFA to expand their respective Champions League and Club World Cup competitions. In the lower leagues most clubs play more games than those in the Premier League due to the 24 team divisions and earlier starts in the cup competitions. Yet they don’t complain in the same way the superstars do.

Football fans want to see football being played. For far too long they’ve been robbed on a weekly basis of this. The changes being made address that issue, and that’s a positive start.

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