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Time-wasting in football is 'annoying' and referees can prevent it - ex-Premier League forward Noel Whelan

Cardiff's Sean Morrison spent over eight minutes taking throw-ins in a Premier League match v Burnley September
Cardiff's Sean Morrison spent over eight minutes taking throw-ins in a Premier League match v Burnley September

Time-wasting must be a thing of a past in football and referees are responsible for putting a stop to it, according to former pro Noel Whelan.

Football law-makers IFAB (International Football Association Board) are looking at possible ways to clamp down on time-wasting in the sport as part of their 'Play Fair' campaign and they are willing to consider a number of options to improve the game.

An alarming stat from September’s Premier League meeting between Cardiff and Burnley showed that the ball was in play for just 42 minutes and two seconds – in a 90-minute game taking place in what is considered the world’s best league. Cardiff's Sean Morrison reportedly took, on average, 25 seconds to take long throws - totalling eight minutes and 15 seconds in this game.

An IFAB source recently told The Times: “We all want to crack down on major time-wasting and increase playing time but the fundamental question is how we do it.”


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Be it kicking the ball away, delaying taking set pieces or making slow substitutions, a lack of gamesmanship is increasingly being encouraged in order to secure points.

A suggestion of a 60-minute match where the clock is paused when the ball is not in play was recently dismissed, leaving the committee open to further ideas.

Whelan, who made over 300 appearances as a professional in England, Scotland and European competitions, thinks officials could make a difference by setting the tone in games.

He told Sporting Life’s Sky Bet Championship podcast of his frustration: “There has been a lot said by fans; fans throughout the Championship now.

“I’ll go back to Birmingham City at Leeds United recently, Birmingham's style of play was just deliberate time wasting.

"Nottingham Forest (again against Leeds) was the same. They’ve got the most yellow cards in the Championship and I know why.

Nottingham Forest have received 42 bookings so far in the Sky Bet Championship this season
Nottingham Forest have received 42 bookings so far in the Sky Bet Championship this season

“It’s not through aggression, not through late challenges, but through petulance. Kicking the ball away, throwing the ball away and getting in the referee’s face, trying to kill time by holding on to the ball, these sort of things.

“If the referees nip that in the bud straight away, in the first five minutes, it doesn’t happen again throughout the game, simple as that. You lay the law down: yellow card for that [and if] anyone else does it, it’s a yellow card.

"Do you want to risk yourself for the next 60-70 minutes of the game walking the tightrope on a yellow card that you got for holding onto the ball or booting it five yards away?

“They [referees] have got to nip it in the bud, it is annoying to watch, annoying for teams to be part of and you don’t want to see things like that in the game.”

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Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages1

Paper Talk: £40m Batshuayi move

Everton are set to make a £40m offer to Chelsea for Michy Batshuay plus plenty more in today's bulletin.

Saturday's best bets2

Saturday's bets of the day

Our team unveil their fancies for Saturday's sport, including Matt Brocklebank's best bet at Ascot and a speculative 66/1 chance from the world of golf.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package
3

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

Check out this weekend's Sporting Life Accumulator
4

Sporting Life Accumulator

Our Sporting Life Accumulator for Saturday's football involves four EFL teams, enhanced to 20/1 with Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's preview package for Wolves v Leicester in the Premier League
5

Foxes to pinch Molineux scrap

Styles make fights and two counter punchers clashing at Molineux won't make for a classic - but it's Leicester who might find that one knockout blow.

Football Tips

Check out this weekend's Sporting Life Accumulator

Sporting Life Accumulator

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