Football matches can reduce up to 60 minutes of pure time

THE INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL Association Board (IFAB), which is responsible for the final decisions on the game's rules and regulations, are proposing some changes, a handful of which are quite radical.

They will also contemplate making penalty kicks during games the same as in shootouts, with the only outcomes being a goal or a goal-kick to the defending team.

A penalty will be awarded if a 'keeper handles a back-pass.

Teams could also be docked points for surrounding a referee.

They include cutting playing time down from 90 to 60 minutes, handing out point deductions to teams who protest decisions made by the referee and all saved penalties resulting in a goal kick, thus preventing teams from following up their spot kick from the rebound. "You could say it is a quiet revolution aimed at getting football even better".

None all of the proposals are certain to become part of the Laws of the Game - each change requires a two-thirds majority between the board's members of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the block vote of Federation Internationale de Football Association - but Elleray has put forward ideas for discussion, testing or immediate implementation within the current laws.

The latest proposals will be discussed over the next several months and then any changes they want to formally consider can be approved in March for trials in competitive matches.

"The underlying philosophy of "Play Fair" is a call to the conscience of everyone involved in football", said a statement on the IFAB website.

Referees can only blow for half-time or full-time when the ball goes out of play, just like rugby. Referees add on time at the end but it never tallies to the actual amount of time lost.

The headline-maker is the suggestion of two 30-minute halves, with the referee stopping the clock when a ball is inactive.

Arsenal goalkeeper and former Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech welcomed the idea, saying timewasting is a big problem in the current format given the clock does not stop.

"Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time (EPT) i.e. when the ball is in play."

IFAB says the Fair Play! document has three aims - to improve player behaviour and increase respect, to increase playing time and to increase fairness and attractiveness.

Vanessa Coleman

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