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Question Number: 32661

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play 8/20/2018

RE: Recreational

Bill cansick of Harwich, Essex England asks...

This question is a follow up to question 97123

Years ago the two captains would meet in the cntre circle and the ref would toss a coin . Sometimes the teams would then swap ends. This never happens now. Is the direction of the play decided before the game now?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bill
At the toss the winning captain must decide what direction to play. In the past there was a choice of either deciding ends / direction of play or taking the kick off. That is no longer is the case as the winning captain can only decide direction of play with the losing captain taking kick off .
Many captains decide to not to swap ends as they do not see any advantage in doing so. It does hapoen though just not so often.
I recall a coin toss spat between Manchester United and Liverpool a few seasons ago. At Anfield it is believed that if Liverpool wins the toss they will always choose to defend the Kop end in the first half and attack it in the second. They set up the warm up accordingly so there is no need to change ends.
West Ham changed end although with TV coverage the toss was not shown nor the set up. TV uses the time to show teams, subs etc for both teams plus ads so we do not see any of the pre match activity other than the hand shake

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Bill,
the coin toss winner indicates the direction of play as the opponents get the kick off. So if there is a strong wind or a late setting or high rising sun it might be a reason to switch sides. Most teams just go with the side they are on BUT they do have that choice to move if they win the toss.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bill,
While it is rare, it does still sometimes happen that the teams change ends after the coin toss. In fact it happened in a game involving a Premier League team just recently. I'm not 100% sure which, but it was either a pre-season friendly or a game on the opening day of the season. It stuck in my mind, precisely because it's uncommon these days and I remember saying to myself that it's something you don't see very often any more.

It is unusual in high-level professional games played in big, modern stadia in normal weather conditions as there is usually little to be gained by it but in lower level matches where pitch and/or weather conditions may play more of a part, it is somewhat more common.

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