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Scrap 0-0 draws

March 5th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 2 Comments · Life

That is the headline in a story from today’s Observer.

It seems that the French TV executives, having forked out a fortune to show football games, feel that too many goal-less games is not going to pull in the viewers.

Some of the suggestions are to give more points for score draws than for a 0-0, giving bonus points to teams winning by more than two goals, points for a losing team who scores, points for the team which scores first in a draw, and penalty shoot-outs to settle a drawn game.

The instinctive reaction of any football supporter is obviously to be suspicious and hostile. It all sounds far too American and fails to recognise that a 0-0 draw can be a thing of beauty. Crawley Town would be greatful for a couple of 0-0 draws, and as a West Ham supporter watching the Spurs-Blackburn match on TV I would welcome a draw, with a 0-0 being even better.

But maybe some of these suggestions are not so silly after all. When three points for a win was first suggested there were people saying it was going to ruin the game, but now we are used to it. Having extra points for large winning margins and other things was a feature of the rugby world cup – I think. I don’t follow rugby, but I remember getting confused about the scoring.

Introducing penalty shoot-outs is a step too far. Far too American. You have to accept that draws happen. Tweaking the scoring is far better than interfering with the rules of the game itself. Its just a way of changing the incentives for players and managers.

One thing the TV executives will have to accept is that 0-0 is one of the natural states of the game, and lovers of the game can still savour them. Previous attempts to liven up football (three points for a win, the back-pass rule, etc.) may have caused more goals or fewer 0-0 draws for a while, but there is a natural equilibrium. The game soon absorbs these changes, adapts to them, and produces goal-less games in spite of them.

It all shows a certain degree of shallowness in the assumption that goals are the only thing worth watching in a game. There is far too much emphasis on attack. Seeing a fine save is at least as satisfying to watch, not to mention a good, old-fashioned, solid tackle by a defender or a perfect cross-field pass.

If there is any tinkering with bonus points, it would be nice to see some sort of reward for keeping a clean sheet, even if that could be seen to encourage 0-0 draws.

I’ve really got an open mind on this. I could be persuaded, but I’m not clamouring for change. With Sky Sports showing two games back-to-back today its hard enough for me to get anything else done. If they made the games more exciting it would be even worse.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Hughes Views

    Problem is if ‘they’ start tinkering too much it might end up like one day cricket where the game seems to change each season or Rugby Union where many of the rules are almost exactly the opposite of what they were when I played (a very long time ago).

    Anyone who can’t understand why a 0-0 draw, to say nothing of a five day match that ends in a draw (such as the one which finished this morning), can be exciting probably shouldn’t be thinking about sport anyway and especially not in French!

  • Bob Piper

    Penalty shoot-outs at the end of nil-nil draws is a ludicrous suggestion which would have the totally opposite affect. My shower would go to Anfield with exactly the same mentality as now, but more so. The notion that we could eke out a nil-nil draw and then walk away with all three points from a penalty shoot out would make them even more determined to put everyone back in our own half for 90 minutes.