Last weekend I skipped the FA Cup Final to watch something else. In June it is likely that European International Cup games may not attract viewing. How come after so long, the footie on TV is gone from a must to a might to a miss? Is it me or them?
It might be that squads of gym pumped big men who run faster for longer and be highly organised in tactics and especially defence may have made the game far more predictable and less of a joy. Also, watching petulant millionaires is different from players of the past in terms of identifying with a team.
So if more people come to feel like this could the soccer boom start to go down instead of ever upwards? Big money may have been an attraction in the past, but in the future may the effect on the game of creating squads of lookalike from anywhere players playing to order and the book put it beyond the interest of many?
One answer might be to increase the size of pitches requiring players to cover much more ground. There is one small snag. That is that virtually all the stadia around the world are built to the existing size. What about reducing the number of players, say to nine a side? Possible, but again may not do that much to help.
Which brings us to the rules of the game. At present the highly organised defensive systems mean that half, or even less than that, of the pitch at any time is available for effective play. Abolish the offside rule and you completely change the opportunities for attack and require the defences to be more widely spread.
A secondary amendment might be to limit the goal keeper to stay within the goal area rather than the penalty area for handling. This might be useful but is relatively marginal. What matters is opening up the game to more movement and changed tactics for attack.
There are other issues. The "professional fouling" that is now common place, tolerated if not expected, is a game spoiler in many ways. Also the theatricals that go with it. Were referees to be allowed and supported in cracking down on this and sending more off would certainly open up the game for the good.
Would a cleaner, faster and more open game with the full pitch potential for movement and attack be the better way of bringing back the spirit of the game into the football being played?
The picture above is Sheffield FC of 1857, the first established football club in the world. The club has played to rules that have changed or altered many times in the past. In 2017 at 160 years young they should have no trouble with another.