When penalty shoot-outs happen they certainly elicit a great deal of excitement and give good audience value. But, although I like them, they do seem a bit of a random way to decide football championship competitions; so say pundits, and now FIFA. They also seem to encourage negative football. The very idea of starting a match with tactics to play for a penalty shoot-out seems crazy. Well, what is a better way? Perhaps paradoxically it is to keep them!
For some years now I have considered some great solutions, well I think they are anyway. And I am now prepared to share them with you. Or perhaps you have better ideas in which case please share them.
Actually, I have several possible solutions presented in my order of preference.
1. Start the match with a penalty shoot-out. The winner of this shoot-out starts with a marginal advantage of, say, half a goal. So, from then on there can never be a draw at the end of playing time. This has the advantage of saving the drama of the shoot-out and the audience value. The disadvantage I see is that it may make the match duller, because one side will immediately be on the defensive. But overall this is my favourite approach. You have the drama of the shoot-out in every match and you have a full football match that has to produce a definitive result.
2. Have a penalty shoot-out at half time if the score is 0-0 at that time, otherwise the team that scores first wins. The second half then starts as above with one side having a half goal or golden goal advantage and no draw is possible. This avoids the sudden death of penalty shoot outs at the end of all playing time but might encourage defensive play to allow winning the match at half time.
3. Flip a coin at the start of the match. The winner has the half a goal advantage, the loser the choice of ends. This has the advantage that the coin-tossing ritual is already part of the match. The disadvantage is that results might be determined by “the toss of a coin” which hardly brings prestige and credibility to the eventual winner. This scheme also loses the drama of the shoot-out.
4. Decide the winner on number of corner kicks. Obviously only in the event of a draw at the end of full-time. The big disadvantage of this is that the objective of the match becomes one of winning corners. It also allows for the possibility of no winner at the end of the match with teams even on goals and corners. Although much less likely in this event penalty-shoot outs would still be required. This seems a poor choice.