MIDDLE: What is the rule on where throw-ins are taken?
Keen-eyed Reading supporters may have noticed in recent games that referees have instructed players where throw-ins should take place.
For a while players happily took them anywhere up to 10 or even 20 yards from where the ball crossed the touchline out of play, that’s where Law 15 says they need to be put back into play.
This is an essential hatred of supporters, making their feelings known when done by the opposition.
Of course, it’s not just in Reading that this change is taking place. If you watch the games on TV, you’ll see it happening all over the Football League. So it would seem that an edict has been issued.
Years ago there was no penalty for throwing the ball in the wrong place, except that the throw-in had to be redone.
In fact, usually it was caught pretty much where it came out (no one worried about a yard or two).
However, if a team won by one goal and time ran out, they used this part of the law as a small waste of time.
They would throw the ball a great distance forward from the correct position, knowing that the umpire would just throw it to the right spot, which they would slowly walk towards. This would cause the stopwatch to lose a few more seconds.
The IFAB lawmakers spotted this scam and in 1987 made sure that pitch theft was treated the same as any other foul pitch i.e. the pitch went to the team opponent.
This put an end to this particular practice. In recent years though, players have started throwing the ball where they want, which has been ignored by referees, at least in the senior leagues.
Probably in the request to speed up the game, or being told that this is not what the game expects.
There are, I think, two aspects to consider. First, can throw-ins from the wrong area (usually too far forward) be stopped?
The answer is definitely yes. We have the tools. We simply award the throw-in to the opposing team when the law is broken. I’ve done it several times, admittedly after a first warning because local footballers tend to copy what they see happening on television.
The other point is, is it worth it. It’s such a minor part of the game, does it matter if players start the game with a throw-in from the wrong place, even if it’s further down the court. My argument is why do we have laws of the game, if we’re just going to ignore them.
By Dick Sawdon Smith