Friday, March 17, 2006

Reg: 0-0 draws the symptom not the problem

It's usually Americans who complain that 'soccer' does not have enough goals and that something should be done about like making the goals larger. Fortunately, the United States does not enjoy hegemony over the world's most popular game. (Incidentally, if a very bright young academic in Manchester is reading this, and I know she does sometimes, this is a thought for your project on US hegemony).

But now the French have decided that the number of 0-0 draws in their top flight can no longer be met with a Gallic shrug. Among the ideas put forward in a review are giving two points for a score draw, giving an extra point for the team that scores first or having a penalty shootout after a draw. Whilst there is something in the first idea, my general view is that this is another example of the notion that nothing good ever comes out of France.

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney rightly points out that such measures would not solve the Premiership's underlying problems. He praised the French league for reexamining such a fundamental part of its game. But he doubted that introducing such changes in the Premiership would reduce the number of games that are either irrelevant to a team's title chances or are dominated by very defensive football. 'There's no magic answer to what to do about the fact that the majority of Premiership clubs know they have no chance of winning it, such as changing the points structure,' Varney said. 'It comes down to the way money is distributed in the game and the gap between the top few clubs and the rest. 'We need a wide-ranging debate on our future direction to ensure we remain among the best leagues in the world.' Quite.

Given that PV generally speaks good sense on such matters, why does he adopt a 'hear no evil, see no evil' approach to the current unrest among Charlton fans, expressing surprise that tickets for the Boro game are not selling like hot cakes? Even a well known coach operator has said that a lot hinges on the 'Boro game. 'More than a football club' is a nice slogan, and community activities are very worthwhile, but nothing can substitute for excitement on the pitch.


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