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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 15, 2007

League to assess shootout plans

Football League clubs have agreed to consider a revolutionary proposal for penalty shoot-outs to decide all drawn matches as part of a wider review aimed at making the game more entertaining.

A meeting of the 72 league chairmen agreed to a working party being set up to consider the proposal among other ways of making their competitions more attractive.

The proposal was put forward by Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney, and would see all drawn matches in professional league games outside the Premiership go to a shoot-out.

Mawhinney said: ``I suggested that for drawn matches each team gets a point and then maybe the team that wins a penalty shoot-out gets an extra point.

``Managers may hate shoot-outs but fans love them. The chairmen decided to use this proposal to have a broader look at a range of ideas that might refresh our product.

``Some people were strongly against it, some people were in favour of it but on both sides people said `let's be constructive and have a broad examination of what we have on offer'.''

The league's working party will now seek other ideas from clubs and fans but will be limited by the rules of the game - for example they would not be permitted to abandon the offside rule.

Mawhinney said it was important to constantly seek to improve the entertainment on offer.

He added: ``We cannot afford to be complacent - people are always talking to be about how we can get more goals and more excitement in football.

``I understand that it is not instinctively where clubs would go but if you don't change in a changing world then you can fall behind.''

The meeting also discussed where the end of season play-offs would be staged and Mawhinney said he was increasingly hopeful that they would be at the new Wembley stadium.

``It's outside of our control but I'm more hopeful than I was some weeks ago,'' he said. ``If the ramp-up events go well and they get the safety certificate then we should be able to have the play-offs at Wembley.''

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger added his voice to the debate, saying: 'I saw this in my first year managing in Japan - it did not have spectacular results.'

He added: 'In extra-time they played a sudden death goal and if no-one scored they had penalties.

'The draw is part of the culture of the game and I would not like that to disappear.'

The original idea was first put forward in a Football League Fans Survey.

There are currently two proposals to be considered - firstly a traditional penalty shoot-out; and secondly the more radical idea of a player having eight seconds to try and score after receiving the ball on the half-way line, as has been tested in America.

Bournemouth boss Kevin Bond told the Daily Echo newspaper: 'Why can't we just have a draw?'

'I don't agree with it because I think it's too much of a radical change.

'I'm very open-minded and I think certain laws of the game need to move with the times but that would be too much of a drastic measure.'

Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock has dismissed the plan.

'They have probably got little else to discuss on the agenda if that is the main directive,' he said. 'Personally I detest penalty shoot-outs. I don't see anything wrong with the Championship.

'If they want to titivate and mess about they should try to get to FIFA and get the divers and the people who are injured treated while the game is in progress to get the game moving quicker.

'They should try to do constructive things.'

The plan to ensure all matches finished with a winner was once adopted by soccer bosses in the United States but Warnock finds it difficult to envisage it catching on over here.

'If we are going to go Americanised we are going to have all these girls waving things every time there is a goal,' he added.

'You ask them to run up and down in Sheffield with very little clothing on - it would be hard work for them.'