How to resolve the deadlock of defensive football

Some recent European Cup football matches have demonstrated that a major review of how to resolve drawn matches is required. Here is my suggestion.

Before the match is played a penalty shoot out is staged. This will be called the ‘pre-shoot out’. Each team will take five penalties apiece. If after the ten penalties there is an unequal result, then the actual match can be played. If, after ten penalties, the ‘pre-shoot out’ results in an equal score then additional penalties are taken until a team is at a disadvantage; say, 7-6 overall.

The purpose of the ‘pre-shoot out’ is to act as an insurance policy for attacking football. The ‘pre-shoot out’ only comes into play if the actual match results in a draw. If the match provides goals and a win for either team, then the match result stands and the ‘pre-shoot out’ is ignored.

If the match results in a score draw then the ‘pre-shoot out’ comes into play and the winner of the ‘pre-shoot out’ is the overall winner of the match and no extra time is played. However, if the match results in a goaless draw then an additional ‘post-shoot out’ is staged and five more penalties each are taken. The result of the ‘post-shoot out’ is added to the ‘pre-shoot out’ and the team with the greatest number of penalties is deemed the winner of the match.

If the penalties are equal after the ‘post-shoot out’ then the ‘post-shoot out’ continues in a sudden death finish.

It can be seen from this that the result from the ‘pre-shoot out’ will encourage attacking football. Should a notoriously defensive team win the ‘pre-shoot out’ and attempt to kill the game into a goaless draw then the ‘post-shoot out’ will still give the other team a chance to win the match and so it would not be in the interests of the defensive team to play for a goaless draw.

Other advantages are;

  • a) extra time is not played thus allowing for television schedules to run smoothly
  • b) winning teams can preserve their fitness for the subsequent matches in the tournament
  • c) penalty shoot out’s are riveting drama to those people who have only a passing interest in football.
  • d) the ‘post-shoot out’ will be an entirely different strategy to the ‘pre-shoot out’ as some players will have been substituted or sent off, making it tactically interesting.

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