The Professional Game Match Officials Limited, or PGMOL, boss Howard Webb addressed recent complaints from prominent figures over increased time added to Premier League matches.

During the pre-season, Manchester United’s Raphael Varane voiced his displeasure with the English Football Association (FA). The French defender for allegedly dismissing the players’ concerns. The Frenchman is firm in his belief that adding additional stoppage time to games is harmful to the players.

It follows the FA’s announcement that it is reducing unnecessary delays. Referees and officials are lengthening the amount of time the ball spends in play. The average length of a match is expected to increase to at least 100 minutes.

At the World Cup in Qatar, referees added around seven minutes to most games. This happened at the end of both halves. This strategy debuts this weekend in the opening round of the English Premier League games.

PGMOL responds to Varane’s slamming of added time

Howard Webb explained to TNT Sports, via Eurosport, extra time’s role against time-wasting techniques. He predicts the ‘settling down’ of the additional time once players and referees adjust.

“I did see those comments”, Webb said. “Some of the changes that are being implemented are ones that are a result from more changes and directions from FIFA and IFAB. We don’t have any choice on that. Some of the consultation will have happened prior to those things happening.

“Other areas are as a direct result of consultation we’ve had around time-wasting, feedback we get from fan groups and others as well. We are here to try and positively impact the game. We are seeing a lowering number of effective playing time minutes to a point where people are concerned about that, we are not trying to go crazy, we are trying to move the game more towards where it previously was.

“Of course, we will continue reviewing everything we do. We will continue receiving feedback, and of course, that will include comments made by the representations of the managers and players and others we work with. Let’s see how it goes. Let’s see where we go with this.”

Three more minutes should be added on average

 “We’re trying to get back playing time that might otherwise have been lost. The intention with time-wasting, like subs who walk off to the far side, is to make it a fairer game and we’ve been mandated by directives IFAB to do that and by us being more proactive in doing the job that we are there to do.

“In the Premier League, we saw 98-and-a-half minutes last year. We looked at the events that happened last year and applied the new methodology. We think that’s going to go up to about 11-and-a-half minutes per game. So, three minutes more. We are expecting to see an increase, but not quite as much as what we saw with the Football League over the weekend.”

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