The issue of added time has become increasingly more publicised this season; the phrase ‘Fergie time’ has entered the footballing lexicon and there are increasing calls for an overhaul of the current system. The concern that the likes of Man United benefit from more added time when in need of a goal has in some sense been addressed in recent weeks as games seem to have longer periods of added time now. Though Ferguson’s methods are suspect his constant calls for more time appear to have been heeded and most games get at least 4 minutes at the end of the second half. But perhaps the system needs to be more accurate; perhaps FIFA should look at the possible introduction of ‘real time’.
At present, there is still probably less time added on than should be when you consider that there is automatic 30 seconds added for each substitution on top of all the other stoppages. Throw ins, free kicks and penalties can all takes a long time to be taken leaving the ball dead for many minutes. Consider how long a goalkeeper can take to organise his wall; how long it takes for centre-backs to amble forward to attack corners; how long it takes for the game to kick-off again after a goal has been scored. Having a clock that stopped whenever the ball was dead would account for all of these stoppages and ensure that there could be no time-wasting.
Those that run the game may oppose the concept of ‘real time’ for the same reason that they oppose video technology; that the game should be run the same way at all levels. But ‘real time’ can be implemented at lower levels of the game with nothing but a stopwatch and a man to operate it. Of course at the highest level, there could be a large clock in the stadiums.
The current system requires the referee to calculate (guess) the amount of added time there should be, while at the same time they are attempting to deal with all manner of issues on the pitch. It would make more sense to take this particular responsibility away from the referee so they could focus on their actual job and have an official timekeeper to deal with added time.
Many people appear averse to changing the game of football in any way, but the fact is new directions are given to referees each year so the concept of ‘real time’ would be easy enough to implement, and it would remove any controversy to do with how much time should be added.