With the new season all but a month away and the Barnsley squad out in the Spanish Sun getting to know the new management team and subsequent summer acquisitions that accompanied them, now is probably not the time to pre-empt their fortunes for the coming campaign.

Most Reds fans have written their side off already, but I for one will reserve judgement until at least Christmas when the new recruits have had time to settle. I do feel rather optimistic about the 2011/12 season and think Keith Hill along with his assistant David Flitcroft, will help Barnsley reach the next level, something most fans are over-eager for the club to quickly achieve.

While we let the toil of pre-season training consume the Barnsley players, one thing that I feel passionate about (other than Tykes) is the state of Football when it comes to it’s petty rules and ridiculous legislation. As Mr. Blatter gorges his freeloading ego at the table of the evil Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe this week, maybe he would be better off looking at some simple changes to our beautiful game that I think would enhance it for the better. Changes to existing nonsenses such as….

Stoppage Time

It’s an age old issue. A team loses in the seventh minute of injury team and the fans of the team on the receiving end beggar belief as to where the referee found so much added time. The use of technology in recent years has seen the introduction of the electronic numbers board to signal the minimum time the referee has instructed will be played, yet this still frustrates fans, players & managers alike.

Solution: Take for instance the Rugby League's approach to the problem. Why not have a master clock that everyone in the stadium can see. When the 90 minutes have expired the whistle is blown. Most professional clubs have scoreboards these days that could be linked up to the referee who could then pause the countdown when injuries & substitutions occur. It would all but eliminate any alleged favouritism and such fables as ‘Fergie Time’. Everyone one is aware of the time remaining and so that there can be no complaints, or must we insist on controversy being ‘part of the game’ and giving us all something to moan about?

Injured Players

Correct me if I am wrong, but was the original ruling brought in to speed up the game by aiming to get injured players off of the pitch to be treated while play continues? Why is it that we now have a situation where players are treated on the pitch and then are asked to leave only to be allowed straight back on seconds later. It’s entirely pointless.

Solution: I suggest that we simply go back to basics. It’s clear to see that players are aware when a serious injury has occurred to a player, be it a team mate or one of the opposition. Play should be allowed to carry on regardless of any player writhing about in agony on the deck, and it should be left up to the player to get up and carry on or seek medical attention as they see fit. Any fan, be it on the terraces or at home in the arm chair know that 90% of so called injuries are feigned. Ignoring the brittle creatures might bring sportsmanship back into proceedings or at least allow it flow more freely like the original rule intended.

The Offside Rule

Everyone associated with football knows the current rule is a farce and can be interpreted any which way a person desires.

A Spanish linesman signalling an off-side offe...Image via Wikipedia
The instructions to the Referee’s Assistants make it even more frustrating. If a player stops because he knows he is off side then simply flag. What is the point of waiting for him to re-change his mind and go after the original ball and allowing him to touch it before flagging? It’s a pointless addition to frankly annoying rule change that was unfounded in its need for alteration.

Solution: Revert back to the tried and tested offside rule that can be written on the back of an envelope. A rule that everybody knows, but more importantly trusts. If a player is offside when a ball is played forward, regardless of whether he touches it or is / isn’t interfering with play. The flag should go up for offside, a free kick taken and off we go.

There are a host of petty rules and regulations that are blighting the game. The players (especially at the top level) don’t help matters. Holding onto an opponent for dear life on attacking set pieces is frustrating to all but could be stamped out in a week. If all clubs are briefed that any such nonsense will not be tolerated prior to the season starting, then there can be no excuses. If the referees make a stand and give a penalty every time it occurs, even if it be seven or eight in one game, it would soon cut it out. The same could be said for whinging to the ref. A straight yellow from the off, followed by a subsequent red if it persists, should shut the motor mouths and serial complainers up, for the time being at least.

The men in the middle shouldn’t be left to use their own discretion either as this never appears to work. Just look at the simulation rule. It got so black and white that every time a player fell to the ground it was a free-kick or a booking. Apparently, you can’t fall to the ground after being tackled without first being fouled or later diving like a kestrel swooping for it’s evening prey. I’m sorry, but we all know this is not true.

A final word has to go to the ridiculous mandatory yellow card for the removal of a players shirt or interaction with the crowd during a goal celebration. What’s the harm though really? We all know there a far more serious things that need be addressed at all levels of the game; especially in the current climate, as we find ourselves reading daily about alleged corruption at the top, financial mis-management of clubs at the bottom and players taking more money out the game than is coming into it.

If the suits who decide what is best for the game, actually took a step back a realised that fans are what the game is really all about, (after all with no consumer, you have no product to sell) and if fans are driven away, then the game will have a task in its self just to survive. All that is needed is for them to take a step back, listen to the fans and make it enjoyable for them to watch again; which I’m sure it will be down at Oakwell this coming season, as nothing, not even a two week exposure to the most depressing Radiohead album could be as boring as the football produced last season.

We live in hope, that not only will our beloved game be saved from constant meddling but also that the optimism of some fans towards their club remains in tact

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Cheers Ramone for a great debut article on this blog. I'm hoping that you will continue to provide us with an insight on your personal observations and thoughts throughout the season.

How many times do we all complain about the standard of refereeing at Oakwell and also on the wider coverage we see on TV. "The suits" as you put it don't even listen to their member organisations, let alone the fans, so I won't hold out much hope there. But there were a number of points well made and I can only hope they resonate elsewhere for the good of the game.