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Question Number: 30042

Law 1- The Field 1/24/2016

RE: Adult

Gareth of Machynlleth, Powys United Kingdom asks...

You have been playing for 75 minutes and the home team is losing heavily and one of it's coaching staff informs you that the pitch measurements are outside the regulations.
What should you do if you discover that they are?
And do Referees check pitch measurements prior to kick-off?
I have never seen this done and some Clubs alter the size depending on the opponent.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

'Uh, what do you want me to do about it coach? It's your field.'

Yes, I have checked field measurements (roughly, by pacing them out) when something looks amiss. Maybe the PA is too big or too small - it happens a lot in youth games, where the size has been altered by the rules of the competition for that age group, and the field doesn't match the ROC.

But again I ask, what do you want me to do about it? No one is going to be available to make changes before game time (and especially not during game time, as your enterprising coach seems to suggest he wants). Either we play with the field as it has been given to us, or we all go home and come back another day. Incidentally, many ROC I've reffed under specify that a rescheduled game will take place at the Visitor's site if the Home team can't supply a proper field (exceptions made for weather).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gareth
As a referee I make cursory checks on field measurements such as the size of the penalty area, penalty mark etc by stepping it out. My pace exacts to a yard exactly. I dont look at overall dimensions unless it is strangely different as I expect the League to have sorted this. If the pitch though has been significantly shortened in length or width I may have to make call as to what can be done before kick off . The laws say the minimum length is 100 yards and 50 yards wide. Changing dimensions is extremely rare given many items such as goal posts are fixed as are previous lines. At the highest level team do change pitch dimensions on width so the referee does a rough step test to see if it within the rules and if it is questionable asks for it to be measured and changed if found to be incorrect.
At junior level I would see the game out and then do a rough step calculation to see what the complaint is about and report it to the league. The league can decide what to do. I would take a dim view of a 75 minute wait to bring it to my attention by the home team as it is its own ground? Bet you that had the home team been in the lead they would not be complaining.
Last season I found a ground with a 16 yard penalty area line on one side at one end. It was not possible to sort it so the game was played. It was the same for both sides and I reported the error. It would not be a reason to abandon the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Gareth,
I'd tell him to feel free to report it to the league and leave it at that. I'm curious though - you said 'what would you do if you discover they are?' - well, how would you discover that during a match? You're not going to stop it to measure out the pitch.
Referees aren't going to measure out the pitch, we just assume it's fine. As part of my prematch inspection I may pace out the edge of the penalty area (though to be fair, some grades I referee would probably judge me as a bit pedantic if I did that, so I don't do this on every grade, not unless it looks suspicious) as well as check the location of the Penalty Mark - that's the most likely to be out of position, I find (and if so, you can just have the players ignore the Penalty Mark and advise them where to place the ball).

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Gareth
hmm it took 75 minutes plus halftime for that to be apparent?? One can certainly include in a match report the complaint, was it a square not a rectangle? lol I say we offer at best a cursory inspection of the pitch as we expect the regular field markings are maintained correctly. I offer my ARs duties of the goal area and nets safety issue, then either I or they pace off the 6, 12 and 18 to ensure the PK spot is accurate. But I like to warm up and jog the perimeter of the field check the corner flags and arc, technical areas, ensure the spectators are positioned far enough off the field to be safe and out of my ARs run paths ! One might pace off the centre circle if is was weirdly shaped but over the years our pacing off ten yards is pretty close to spot on so OBVIOUS defects would likely be noted. Where we often have difficulty are the fields used for multi sport venues, like rugby, outdoor lacrosse, pointy ball football, grass hockey, soccer mini and regulation matches. Different coloured lines, many overlap, some faded, it can get quite confusing.
Your claim the field lines are adjusted to restrict the different opponent's sounds ominous? Sounds like the ROC needs to investigate the ethics if true?
There is no doubt that skilled fit teams do very well on larger fields.

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