Harte reveals ‘grave reservations’ at rules changes

Mickey Harte says he has “grave reservations” about the proposed rule changes and thinks they should only be trialled in the subsidiary competitions.

The Tyrone manager thinks it would be a mistake to persist with the rule changes for the Allianz League if they are not in place for the football championship, and is unhappy managers and players were not consulted about the changes in advance.

He also believes the changes will be self-defeating. Rather than promoting more expansive, attacking football, Harte reckons it could actually lead to the opposite.

“I don’t see them affecting the game positively the way the people bringing them in think they will do,” he said, at last night’s McKenna Cup launch in Belfast.

“There’s a potential to clog things up even more and lend itself to more defensive football. I don’t see them making things any better.

I’m okay with trialling them in the subsidiary competitions but I think there should be a very detailed review of them after that and we have to look very seriously to consider which of them, if any, will add value to our game in the national league for a start.

“There are too many rule changes. For any rule to be seen to be effective, you’d want to minimise the number of them for a start and have a really in-depth review of them after a trial.

“And if they’re going to be in the league and not championship it makes no sense to me whatsoever to prepare and play in seven league games which will have no bearing on how you play in the game in the championship.

"That makes no sense and I don’t think the sponsors would be too enamoured either.”

Tyrone have sought and received permission from Croke Park to play their opening McKenna Cup game on December 16, as they will be on a team holiday to Thailand when the first round proper begins on December 30.

That will be Harte’s first glimpse of the rules, introduced by the Standing Committee on Playing Rules, in action.

“It surprises me that these rules were even talked about and brought to a meeting before... I mean I was never consulted about them and I’ve been involved in football for many years now. They never asked the managers.

“I don’t think they asked the players a lot before they were mooted.

“The early response was from not very happy to moderately happy about the whole thing. There was nobody very happy about all these changes.”

Harte was no fan of the sin-bin when it was trialled by a football rules task force in 2005 but of the changes being introduced this time, it is the only one he’s giving a tentative thumbs up to.

I’ve been speaking to referees and they’re a bit concerned about it. It’s making life more complicated for them in addition to what they already have to deal with.

“The only one I see easy to implement and experiment with is the sin bin, which won’t add much burden to the referee and the players can take it easily in their stride and they’ll still be playing the same game we’ve played in the last number of years.

“Others I think it could lend themselves to more defensive football. People will be getting behind the ball because what’s the point staying up the field if you can’t kick it (sideline kick) back so surely people will get behind the ball?”

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