Ian Evatt believes something ought to be looked at to increase the amount of time the ball is in play after that figure dropped to less than half of the nearly 100 minutes managed in Bolton Wanderers' win over Burton Albion and suggested a minimum time of an hour as a potential solution.
Wanderers beat the Brewers in midweek with a comeback 2-1 victory. Amadou Bakayoko came off the bench to cancel out Sam Hughes' second half header.
Towards the end of more than seven minutes of injury time, fellow substitute Jon Dadi Bodvarsson came off the bench to fire home following a corner. It cemented a place in the top six of League One for Bolton.
READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers' behind the scenes method which helped Bakayoko & Bodvarsson back to goalscoring
Reflecting on his side's Brewers triumph before turning attention to the weekend clash at home to Oxford United, Evatt revealed the ball was in play for less than half of the match. Out of almost 100 minutes, the ball was in play for just 49 of them.
A large part of that was down to the disrupting tactics that Burton used as part of a plan to get a result at the University of Bolton Stadium. It ended up working against them ultimately as Wanderers got their equaliser deep into stoppage time as a result.
Evatt believes a minimum in ball time of an hour could be a way forward to ensure more time watching the game rather than stoppages as a potential solution. He also believes referees must be strong and clamp down on time wasting as soon as possible in games to nip it in the bud.
He said: “There is no better way to win football matches than that – but the game was frustrating, no doubt about it. We looked at the data this morning and from nearly 100 minutes of football the ball was in play for 49 of them, which is crazy really.
“I don’t know if that is a record. I have seen a few things that Arsene Wenger wants to change in football, having the clock stopped when the ball is out of play and having a guaranteed 60 minutes. Last night is a case in point for that, really, it was frustrating.
“We are not going to be our fluid selves every week and sometimes you go through ruts of form. I don’t think we are playing badly, by the way, but good teams find ways to win.
“I am not saying it has to be a stopped clock but it is something you have to look at.
“Strip everything back, football is an entertainment business and people pay loads of money to come to the football and be entertained, watch the ball actually be in play. Last night neither set of supporters saw that and it is something we have to look at.
“In the world we live in, the financial situation in the UK, it is difficult for people to find the money to come to football clubs. The least they deserve is to be entertained.
“If, for instance, you could guarantee 60 minutes of football then you are not going to get the issues of last night."
He added: “I am not here to criticise officials and referees because I have said this a lot – until they are made professional and they are given the best possible chance they can, I have real empathy with them.
"For me, these things need to be dealt with first half and it is kind of an old adage that time wasting can only take place second half because that is towards the end of the game. Well no actually, it can be from minute two or three as we saw last night.
"Providing the referee is consistent and just deals with it early, I think it just nips it in the bud and it stops it. Maybe there is a bigger picture here as I have said before about there being a ‘minimum game time’ with the ball in play. Maybe that is the way forward and how we develop the game further.”
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