This Premier League season is seeing the lowest ball-in-play time for 12 YEARS – as former FA chief David Dein calls for a countdown clock amid concerns about football’s timekeeping system

The ball-in-play time in the Premier League this season is the lowest it has been for 12 years, Sportsmail can reveal, amid growing calls for an overhaul of the timekeeping system in football.

Debate has raged over how long the ball is in play in recent years and it became a big talking point during the World Cup in Qatar after FIFA urged referees to become stricter over the amount of time they added on for stoppages.

Former FA and Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has proposed a countdown clock or the introduction of independent timekeeping in a document called ‘Pure Time’ to FIFA referee chiefs, which has been backed by the likes of Jamie Carragher.

The ball-in-play time in the Premier League this season is the lowest total it's been for 12 years

The ball-in-play time in the Premier League this season is the lowest total it’s been for 12 years

Brentford's 4-0 thrashing by Aston Villa in October had the lowest total this campaign of 43:26

Brentford’s 4-0 thrashing by Aston Villa in October had the lowest total this campaign of 43:26

How this season compares to others 
Premier League season  Average ball-in-play time 
2022-2023 54 Min 49 Sec
2021-2022  55 Min 8 Sec 
2020-2021 56 Min 22 Sec 
2019-2020  55 Min 49 Sec 
2018-2019  55 Min 31 Sec 
2017-2018  56 Min 11 Sec 
2016-2017  55 Min 51 Sec 
2015-2016  56 Min 1 Sec 
2014-2015  56 Min 22 Sec 
2013-2014  56 Min 43 Sec 
2012-2013  56 Min 23 Sec 
2011-2012  55 Min 53 Sec 
2010-2011  54 Min 16 Sec 

Dein is hoping they will at least discuss the issue at an annual International Football Association Board meeting scheduled for March with the hope of holding a trial at a tournament.

‘The time has come for transparency via a countdown clock so the public can actually see how much time is left. It should not be a national secret,’ Dein told The Times.

‘I’m not saying the clock should be stopped every time the ball goes out of play, but certainly for those incidents which cause the greatest delays: goal celebrations, substitutions, penalties, injuries and now VAR checks.’

Fans are also likely to support Dein’s suggestions with the average ball-in-play time in the current Premier League campaign standing at 54 minutes and 49 seconds, according to statistics provided by Opta.

That is the lowest figure since the 20010-11 season, when the average amount of time the ball was in play was down at just 54min 16sec. The lowest on record was the 2009-10 campaign, which saw the ball in play for an average of 53min 25sec.

There have also been three matches so far in the 2022-23 campaign where the figure is 45 minutes or less. The lowest ball-in-play time this season of 43:26 was recorded when Aston Villa thrashed Brentford 4-0 at Villa Park in October.

Matches involving Brentford account for five of the six worst Premier League games when it comes to ball-in-play time, although this includes the Bees’ 5-2 hammering of Leeds, when there were seven delays because of goals being scored.

Ex-FA chief David Dein has led proposals for a publicly seen countdown clock to be introduced

Ex-FA chief David Dein has led proposals for a publicly seen countdown clock to be introduced

Pundit Jamie Carragher appears to have backed calls for a countdown clock at football games

Pundit Jamie Carragher appears to have backed calls for a countdown clock at football games

Crystal Palace’s 2-1 win over Leeds in October was the second lowest at 43:46, while the average in Brentford versus Leeds was exactly 45 minutes.

Criticism over how long the ball was in play during Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle also appears to be misplaced as there have been 33 matches where the figure was less than that recorded at the Emirates on Tuesday.

The statistics shown for previous seasons account for an entire campaign and we are not even halfway through the current season, but the figures are only likely to increase the calls for change.

The 10 worst Premier League matches for ball-in-play time across this season 
Date  Team Opponent Score  Time  In-play  Per cent in play 
23/10/22 Aston Villa  Brentford  4-0  95:06  43:26  46 per cent 
09/10/22  Crystal Palace  Leeds  2-1  100:54  43:46  43 per cent 
03/09/22  Brentford  Leeds  5-2  101:22  45:00  44 per cent 
13/08/22  Brentford  Man United  4-0  98:08  45:09  46 per cent 
20/08/22  Fulham  Brentford  3-2  96:42  45:25  47 per cent 
08/10/22  Newcastle  Brentford  5-1  95:21  45:44  48 per cent 
13/08/22  Brighton  Newcastle  0-0  97:02  45:50  47 per cent 
05/11/22  Leeds  Bournemouth  4-3  99:08  46:18  47 per cent 
31/12/22  Newcastle  Leeds  0-0  98:20  46:49  48 per cent 
14/08/22 Nottingham Forest West Ham  1-0  101:17  46:50  46 per cent 





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