by Noel Draper
If you are an avid reader of the Cutter then you will know that I sometimes use this medium to register my disgust at the stupid decisions that the governing bodies of our beautiful game arrive at. It sometimes seems that they are just throwing idea darts at an idea dart board with the vague hope that an idea dart sticks. They are also prone to jumping on bandwagons if it means another chance to make some lovely money or to promote themselves just in case another one sided election is looming. Due to their excitement in self promotion any idea they do have is splashed across the world’s back pages for all to read and deride.
This is all well and good but what really annoys me is when a governing body introduces a rule without any fanfare and without any huge press announcements. It’s almost as though they are trying to sneak the change in so as little a fuss is made about the decision as possible. So who is the latest governing body to do this sly trick? Why it’s our very own Premier League, who have managed, with one small rule change, to wipe out a useful tactic enjoyed by every club in the league.
What they have done is standardise every pitch in the Premier League.
Up until the end of last season pitch sizes could be “no more than 110 metres nor less than 100 metres in length and its breadth not more than 75 metres nor less than 64 metres”. This would mean that when a team like Stoke City turned up to play then you could, ground permitting, make the pitch as wide as possible to try and stop the long throws from Delap and his team mates from hitting an area that could cause you trouble. You could also, if Tottenham turned up with their wide players, narrow the pitch to try and contain them.
Quite a few teams used this tactic but they won’t any more because from the start of this season “the length of the pitch shall be 105 metres and its breadth 68 metres”. This, of course, brings all of the Premier League pitches into line with UEFA club competition pitch measurements which I am sure was one of the reasons why this decision was taken but this also means that a tactic is wiped out with little or no say and little or no publicity. This makes me angry.
The trouble is, I have a feeling that my anger shouldn’t only be directed at the Premier League itself, but also the managers and coaches of the top clubs in it’s league as there is maybe another reason why this change was brought in. You see, when certain top clubs visited Stoke, their managers complained about the pitch being narrow and the use of towels to wipe the ball down. It wasn’t fair they said and proceeded to put the advertising hoardings as close to the pitch as possible when Stoke came to town to stop a long throw run up. By making all pitches the same size certain club specific tactics like those employed by Stoke City, designed to try and claw back the balance at bit, disappear and the top clubs are happy. Problem solved.
This, of course, makes me very angry but don’t think that’s the end of the meddling either because in the near future homogenisation will be the norm. Ticket prices, grass length, colour of the net, advertising and clapping will all be standardised. You think I’m joking? Mr Wenger and his cronies have already complained about the length of the grass in some stadiums. That will be next. Changing pitches sizes is the thin end of a very long wedge and that makes me extremely angry.