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Sep 22, 2009

Hodgson: No to time-keeping changes

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson fears any changes to football's time-keeping system could end up with matches lasting as long as the Super Bowl.

Hodgson has every sympathy with Manchester City boss Mark Hughes after Michael Owen snatched a dramatic winner for Manchester United six minutes into added time at the end of Sunday's pulsating derby. Hughes was furious that referee Martin Atkinson had not blown the final whistle after signalling that a minimum of four extra minutes would be played.

But the Fulham boss rejected Hughes' suggestion of independent time-keepers and dismissed the idea that football follow the system used in rugby union, where the clock is paused for stoppages instead of time being added on at the end. Hodgson believes that would be a major step on the road to football becoming riddled with breaks like American sports.

"If you want to have absolutely no discussion ever about time adding on, or if time is being wasted, you need to play effective time and that would change the game radically,'' Hodgson said. "That would move us away from football as we know it and into the realms of ice hockey and American Football.

"That [time-keeping system] suits America because the adverts come in every time there is a stoppage. I would be disappointed if football went down that route. Of course I have great sympathy for people like Mark Hughes. When you have played well and you think you have got a great result it is awful to lose a game in the last minute, whether that is the 89th or 98th.

"You just have to learn to live with it. I am of that very old school that believes referees must be given the right to referee the game and make decisions. It is not an exact science. For me, referees are the arbiters and we have to abide by their decision."

The rugby model ensures the clock shows the exact playing time in the game, which allows everyone in the stadium - players, fans and officials - to know exactly how long is left. But Hodgson believes the current system should remain in place.

"I still think it's great the game kicks off and you have 45, 46, 47 minutes and then you have another 45, 46, 47 minutes,'' he said. "Sometimes you are screaming and shouting at the referee 'they are time-wasting, add more time on' and sometimes you are leading and you take more time on a throw-in.

"We are all guilty of it. I would have liked a lot more time added on at Wolverhampton on Saturday but if I had been leading 2-1 I would have wanted the whistle blown after 90 minutes.''

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