Craig Salmon’s Soapbox: Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson had right idea all along!

Remember Fergie time?
Remember Fergie time?

Stop the clock! Now where have I heard that catchphrase before? Anybody who was alive during the 1980s – like me – will no doubt remember the hit television programme ‘Treasure Hunt’.

Starring the energetic and effervescent presenter Anneka Rice, the show was an orienteer’s dream.

Contestants in a studio had to solve a series of clues using their navigation and map reading skills and then communicate instructions via a radio link to Rice who had to find various locations in a specific part of the UK.

Dressed in a fetching blue and yellow jumpsuit and with access to a helicopter, Rice was sent on what appeared like a ‘wild goose chase’ each week as approximately seven million viewers on Channel Four tuned in.

Of course each challenge Rice undertook was a race against the clock and the show became popularised by its 
famous catchphrase.

While Treasure Hunt is unlikely to ever make a comeback on our TV screens – although a number of spin-offs have occurred over the years – maybe its famous catchphrase is something football could utilise.

Stopping the clock when the ball goes out or when there is a break in play is something which has been mooted this week in an effort to prevent time wasting.

This particular issue came into the spotlight this week 
after Cardiff City’s 2-1 home defeat to Burnley in the 
Premier League.

It has been reported that out of the 90-plus minutes of the game, the ball was in play for less than half that amount – 42 minutes and two seconds to be precise.

Indeed long throw-in specialist Sean Morrison took more than eight minutes during the game getting ready to unleash more than 20 missiles into the Clarets’ half or penalty box.

I think something has to be done about the amount of time which is naturally wasted when there is a throw-in, 
free-kick or corner.

How many times do you see play delayed waiting for a big, lumbering centre-half to make his way up to the opposition’s penalty area to try and get his head on a subsequent free-kick from the halfway line.

And what about when a free-kick is awarded outside the penalty area – how much time is lost waiting for the wall to line-up and the free-kick taker to line-up his shot?

You can understand Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock wanting to utilise Morrison’s throwing ability, but using up eight minutes of a match is anti-football and short-changing the supporters.

We all have memories of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline with his legendary stop watch, acting as an unofficial time keeper.

I always remember smirking to myself when the camera panned to Ferguson at the final whistle and he would be staring aghast at his watch over the amount of time during the game which he believed had been lost.

Maybe it is time to follow Ferguson’s lead and take the time-keeping duties away from the referee and have an official time keeper, who has authority to ‘stop the clock’ whenever the ball is not in play.