A letter from the FA that could have significant implications for Wigan Athletic and other teams in the future….

I’m writing to you in order to clarify a number of changes to the Laws of The Game, which have been discussed as a result of the massive failings in letting Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City into a Wembley FA Cup Semi Final.
The oversights that let this happen need to be eradicated, so a number of changes were discussed. The scourge of sporting meritocracy that has polluted the game more and more over the years must be clamped down upon.

Therefore, having conducted research including focus groups in Merseyside, questionnaires at a West Ham v Arsenal match, and through extensive online research on 606, Facebook and Football 365, we have listened to the Modern Football Fan, and have introduced the following changes:

1) A football match will no longer be decided by goals. I think we can all agree with what one West Ham fan said: "Sure, Stoke’s style of play brings them goals, but football isn’t all about scoring goals, is it?". Proof, if proof is needed, that the method of deciding a match by goals scored is antiquated, and goals should not be allowed to further smear the game.
Matches will therefore be decided on the following criteria:

– Number of short passes: One point per pass, although any pass over 25 yards is punishable with a free kick. Online research showed that just 21% of Stoke’s passes, and 17% of Bolton’s passes, were under 20 yards long.
This must be stopped. (We will also order the introduction of the Overhead Rule so successful in 5-a-side, as we have noticed the recent trend of very tall players for Stoke and Bolton)
– Style points: Extra points will be given for passes attempted with the outside of the boot. NOTE: the pass does not need to actually get to it’s intended target – we will call this the Mereiles Rule. Bonuses will be awarded if the pass is accompanied by the player looking the other way. It looks better, and telly love to put them in slow motion.
– Stepovers will also be considered for style points, regardless of how successful they were in deceiving the opponent. This was a rule that we considered last season, but Bolton went and signed Vladimir Weiss. We are sure this will work. If it’s good enough for Gymnastics, Diving and Strictly, it’s good enough for football.
– Media Multiplier: This is extremely important in ensuring extended success for big clubs. It has now got to the stage where ITV have, for the first time in three years, not shown an FA Cup Semi Final on terrestrial TV. We fully endorse Football Snobbery in all its forms, so will be multiplying any style points in line with how the media perceive the respective clubs.
Therefore, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham will have triple points, West ham United will have their point multiplied by 2.5, Chelsea, Newcastle and Manchester City will have their points doubled. Any team not mentioned above, and situated north of Aston Villa, will have their points divided by 2.5. Bolton and Stoke will have theirs divided by 8. This will not be up for review, unless some really rich people take over a club. However, a three week grace period is essential, just in case the new owners make a farce of the game. This will be known as the "Venky’s Veto".
– Phone Vote: To ensure the big clubs are fairly treated we will introduce a phone vote to add points onto each score. It works on X Factor and the ilk, and look how successful that is in finding critically acclaimed artistes.
It’s a fair system based on popularity rather than ability – members of the public have never been wrong when it comes to deciding what’s best.

2) Tackling, in all it’s forms, must be stamped out of the game starting now. Or after Abou Diaby has smashed someone’s ankle in. Referees will not be given the power to punish tackles. The process for punishing tackles will now be thus:

– If a player has fallen over, whether as tackler or tacklee, play must be stopped
– All players have three seconds after play is stopped to surround the referee
– After three seconds, the team with the most players close to the referee, and once he has considered the level of aggression towards referee and the pitch of the fans whining (the higher the better), the referee will decide who has put the most effort into intimidating him and punish the opponents with a straight red card.
– Retrospective punishment will be aided if the fans of the apparent victimised club have publicly stated that this one particular tackle has spelt the death of the English game. Especially if the words "it wasn’t a tackle – it was assault" and "you never see these tackles in Spain/France/Germany/Italy" have been used.
– Remember, watching the tackle again should not be considered when enforcing this retrospective punishment. There is no more irrefutable evidence than the vitriol of Modern Football Fan. FACT. (The research shows that 87% of respondents believe adding "FACT" to the end of an opinion makes it fact)

There are exceptions to these rules, of course. If the player tackling is wearing an Arsenal shirt, then any injury to the tacklee is fair. Remember, everyone except Arsenal players have purposefully gone out to maim opponents. The research backs up our thoughts that any case of Arsenal players making similar tackles to those that have been considered assault are because of intense provocation. Which, as research shows, makes violence OK.

Exceptions are also considered if the players doing the tackling are name Gerrard, Carragher or Scholes. Although there was no need to remind people about this.

3) The words "At least we play football the right way" is now considered extenuating circumstances when justifying any disciplinary indiscretions. If the person saying this is French, then all accusations against them should be dropped immediately.

4) Any team found not selling their stadium out every match will be docked ten points. If there’s one thing the research showed us, it’s not that the game is suffering because of diving, violence, hooliganism, corruption, over-exposure, fans being priced out of the game or financial mismanagement.
It’s because there are a couple of thousand empty seats around the stadium.

These rule changes will be introduced as of the beginning of the 2011-12 season. We cannot let the likes of Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers, with their different tactics and scoring goals with their heads, railroad the game in the way they’re doing. It’s offending fans of clubs that moan the most, and that is simply unacceptable.

The FA


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