Next goal’s the winner


Can’t believe the cantankerous negativity which surrounds the relatively innocuous introduction of an extra point for the early-round League Cup group. This competition is our least precious, below the Scottish Cup, League title, Champions League, Europa League and at the top of the tree, the Petrofac Cup. Its purpose should be to experiment, especially in the early rounds.

My only issue with the change is its overwhelming conservatism. If you’re going to make changes, be bold.

An objective of any change in our domestic game or competitions should be to increase excitement and drama. Some work has gone into this with the research paper, Suspense and Surprise, by Ely, Frankel and Kamenica, who collected data from 24,000 ‘soccer’ matches across 67 leagues to “compute suspense and surprise generated from each soccer match”. It’s a weighty document, but in brief, they conclude that football is characterised by having plenty of suspense – during any minute a critical goal can be scored, but surprises, either during the game or with respect to the outcome, are few. They write:

“In any given minute of a soccer game, it is very likely that nothing consequential happens. Whichever team is currently ahead becomes slightly more likely to win (since less time remains). There is a small chance that a team scores a goal, however, which would have a huge impact on beliefs. So belief paths in soccer are smooth, with few rare jumps. This sustained small probability of large belief shifts makes soccer a very suspenseful game.”

So your game is suspenseful as a result of nothing consequential happening during any particular minute. It’s that “nothing consequential” line which is a tad disturbing.

The reason I’m referencing this is that on analysing his paper, Frankel accepted (in his academic terms) what kids and five-a-side players have known for decades. A football game where the winner is not decided by the team which scores most goals, but where the “next goal’s the winner” rule holds true, adds crushing drama and excitement to the suspense of the game.

Winning by six goals? So what, it’s next goal’s the winner now – and your chances of winning are no better than 65%. I’m not advocating a competition with this rule – football fans are far too conservative for that, but it’s worth considering why people watch sport, or any other pastime. Put the question differently, a ‘next goal’s the winner’ sport would never drop its dramatic finale to adopt a system which would allow teams to create winning lead with 75% of the game remaining.

Football has come a long way since the formation of the Football Association in 1863. It has cultural resonance and occasionally athletic brilliance, but for the most part the game flourished without that brilliance. It simply offered better entertainment than was on offer elsewhere. Football has never been dependent on skillful wizardry, for the most part this is a rarity.  Don’t listen to people who tell you style or ability determines interest in the game, it doesn’t and never has done. The game will live or die on its ability to throw up drama and suspense.

My guess is that the game will last another 150 years, but it will be completely unrecognisable from the sport you and I know. It will be forced to change by increasingly sophisticated and diverse entertainment options.

Always play ‘next goal’s the winner’ at fives, unless it rankles your conservative tendencies too much.


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  1. Paul67



    This is a family site?



    Then no smut or porn like this article please… WHAT KATY DID FOR CQN…AS SEEN IN FHM!



    Thank you

  2. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    get the squirrel get the squirrel look look there it is, quick its running towards a tree

  3. Canamalar it looks like OCD obsession on

    Surely nothing wrong with a bit of soft porn to educate the kids, itis after all the thinking mhans blog, so its time the kids started grappling with sexual identity and personification issues, no ?

  4. To be honest, the rework of the league cup is quite interesting.



    The regionalised 40 , early rounds, which excluded the top 4 from premier, means summer footballl for the diddy clubs, like 2nd Rangers.



    And will mean little chance of us having to play a teamplaying out of ibrox during the next 2 seasons.



    I think this will be the precursor to league reconstruction.



    The top league will become a 16. To lessen the chances of 3rd Rangers being relegated.



    And the league cup will become 2 rounds of the round robin format. So the last 16, ends up in groups of 4, playing each other twice. At that point in distant 2018, this will give the new 4th rangers a real chance to play Celtic then.



    If you thought Soap had confusing story-lines, this one just got better.



    tune in next week.

  5. The Battered Bunnet on

    Having switched to Firefox recently, and turned on all the shuffles and blocks, I’m blissfully unaware of what clickbait we’re running with these days.




  6. Something definitely needs done with the tourney.



    I’d either go with making it an U21 format or do away with it.



    Many countries don’t have this league cup competition now anyway.




  7. Peat of islay,



    I had a quick look at that article when it first went up on Saturday and I can’t say I noticed any porn.



    I might just head back to confirm my suspicions




  8. I posted last night that I welcome any effort on innovation. The new format for the League Cup is not anything fantastic, it doesn’t directly affect us and I hope it never will but it may give a bit of enjoyment to other team’s supporters and if it attracts an extra few through the turn styles then it is to be welcomed.


    The introduction of the bonus point system in Rugby revolutionised the game and made it a lot more entertaining. Probably wouldn’t work in Soccer, but if there was an extra point for a team that scores 4 goals in a game and a bonus point for a losing team that scored 2, it would totally change the mindset of the game.

  9. foghorn leghorn on




    What P67 has subtely done there is to render the podium chase meaningless.



    It is now irrelevant who posts first on a thread – it will be decided when he says ‘Next Post’s The Winner’



    This now allows him the pleasure of having everyone hanging about on CQN all day waiting for that post, instead of those who just log on at 12.25 waiting for the usual 12.30ish ‘New Article Posted’



    And while you are all waiting, you will be clicking on all the adverts….KERRRRCHIIIINGGGGGG



    P67 will be counting his cash



    It shouldn’t be Frankel he is quoting in his article (fine horse though he is) – it should be Maynard Keynes



    Whats the colour of money?? Turns out it’s green and white – and heading to P67’s pocket ;-)

  10. foghorn leghorn on

    I would change the cup format such that if we draw a lower league team, or even teams in the bottom half of our league that we must play them away from home



    Home cup games against the likes of Alloa, Stranraer etc are a complete waste of time – no crowd, no atmosphere, almost always terrible games and no live telly interest



    At least away games against these teams has a bit of the ‘Romance of the Cup’ angle to it, it’s good for these clubs and their towns and attracts some tv interest, and a good trip for our fans as well to grounds that they might never have been to

  11. Bawsman



    Change of rules in the podium chasing on the back of Paul67’s leader.


    Next posts the winner!




  12. foghorn leghorn on

    blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on 8th December 2015 1:03 pm






    Where is the dignity in that post. 8-)




    it’s sailing up the west coast through villages and towns at the moment



    No more puns please – Ed

  13. Paul67



    Celtic should have a radical rethink of how we compete in the LC.



    Should be used by Celtic primarily to help develop younger players, if a reserve side was fielded it might even boost attendances.

  14. The Battered Bunnet on

    Innovation and Improvement are not mutually inclusive, unless your defintion of Innovation excludes failure.



    That said, there does seem at last to be a mood swing towards modernity amongst the clubs in Scotland, if not the Administrators. Perhaps as the clubs move towards the 21st Century, the Administrators will take a look at establishing a think tank to consider the impact of adopting 20th Century vaules.



    I recall from 3 or so years ago the attempt to parachute Sevco into the top division, failing which, the 1st division. It prompted a few ideas on ‘innovation’ around the concept of ‘franchise football’.



    For example, each supporter in the crowd could be given a voting button to determine whether a yellow or red card should be shown for a given offence.



    The live TV audience would be able to ‘vote off’ players and ‘vote on’ their substitute.



    Commercial firms would be able to rename football clubs after their own ‘franchise’, for example:



    Kilmarnock were a shoo-in to tie up with KFC



    Hearts would partner with ‘Hertz’.



    Hibernian would become simply Berni Inns



    And of course, promotion and relegation wouldn’t be decided by a typical play off: The two competing teams would still play each other, but the winners of the ‘final’ would be decided by Alan Sugar after the ‘task’ was completed, taking advice on the merits of the two ‘contestants’ from Karen Brady and Michelle Mone.



    So many great opportunities to confuse the Values of the Game with its Commercial Worth, none of which a patch on some of what we’ve seen in Scotland in recent years.

  15. Could the league cup not have been fixed just by giving it a Euro place again? Then it might attract a decent sponsor and get a better name. The “Scottish League Cup presented by Utilita” is a smelly name. Bring back the Coca Cola Cup and have Roll With It as the anthem ;)

  16. the long wait is over on

    Not sure I agree with the premise that it’s the uncertainty of outcome that’s key.



    Of course, that’s a huge factor and a last minute winner is always brilliant, even if the pervious 90 or so have been torture but , given that almost all football teams are followed and watched by fans rather than neutrals who want to win that game and the competition of which it forms part I think most fans are happy once the game is beyond the other lot, irrespective of when that is.



    If they weren’t most grounds would clear at three up irrespective of when.



    When Paul Lambert blasted the third in the net in the tenth minute or so of 6-2 game not a soul left the ground, at least not from the Celtic end.



    I agree that “This sustained small probability of large belief shifts makes soccer a very suspenseful game” – when Lambo scored the third I started thinking ” If we lose this now it’s the biggest embarrassment ever” but deep down I knew the game was over.



    Would I have swapped that for a “next goal is the winner” lottery ? Not in a million – not in any game.

  17. From Celtic Fanzone.



    Back To The Future For Scottish Football…


    The people who run Scottish football are a strange, and corrupt lot.



    Their decision to change the format for a competition that’s been dying on it’s feet since they took away European qualification for the winners, is welcome, but before we go into the mechanics of the change, why announce it at 11pm on a Monday night?



    Surely if the new ‘back to the future’ rehash was so exciting, it would deserve a full days…




    Maybe it’s just me, but the game needs as much positive publicity as possible…



    Anyway, the ‘New League Cup’. Well, for a start the BBC have lost out on the new look competition, with BT Sport securing the rights in a four year deal. So we can look forward more Chris Sutton slagging off our manager and our club!



    The change in format includes eight groups of five playing each other once, similar to the old league cup format. The start of the tournament will be July 16, with the eight winners and four runners up being joined by the European participants. The final is expected to be played in the autumn, so no more waiting until March for a Cup Final.



    Starting the tournament so early won’t really matter to Celtic, who will probably be playing…




    Along with the revamped League Cup, a two week winter shut down for next season has been proposed too.



    When it will take place has yet to be decided.



    There you have it, the brains of our game have gone ‘back to the future’ to save the game we love. I’m sure Marty McFly could do a better job…



    *meanwhile the game collapses around them.





    Celtic News

  18. West End of East End on

    Corkcelt – I think that’s a great idea of yours, extra points on offer for both teams depending on goals scored. Much better than rewarding a 0 – 0 draw…

  19. TBJ says Wee Oscar Knox is in heaven with the angels on

    Given our record in the league cup I didn’t think we treated the competition seriously.



    Maybe we should just put our yoofs out

  20. pedrocaravanachio67 on

    A very happy birthday to CRC.



    And good luck and well done for trying BMCUWP’s



    two of the really good ghuys.



    HH PC67

  21. image: http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/292bf7aa4e8be5fb1e21bdf0cf646763?s=30&d=mm&r=g



    Date: 7th December 2015 at 3:05 pm


    Written by: James Forrest | Comments (15)



    image: http://cdn.thecelticblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/nir-300×199.jpg






    You have to hand it to our friends at The Daily Record, right?



    Few newspapers in this country can take a series of quotes, spin them or just outright distort them and run a complete story off of it.



    Few other papers have the sheer cheek.



    Today’s story is that Nir Bitton is set to leave Celtic in the summer for £10 million.



    Take note; this doesn’t say “linked with a move” and it doesn’t say “may be the subject of a bid.”



    It says set to leave.



    They are claiming the deal is done, that Bitton is already saying his goodbyes.



    You know, I understand that, in part, we’ve created the circumstances for this kind of report. Too many of our best players have been allowed to leave in the past couple of years, and the idea of us hanging onto one in light of interest from down south must seem refreshing and new.



    But this is a player who just signed a new and improved long term deal!



    Even for The Record, this is scraping the bottom of the barrel.



    This all started with Bitton’s agent talking to a radio station in Israel, claiming he was now worth £10 million. Whenever I hear that the interview was conducted in a foreign tongue I get suspicious; this is The Record’s MO in a nut-shell. It’s their cue to write tripe and then later feign innocence.



    Few people could disagree with the central thrust of the claim. Bitton’s a fantastic footballer, and the best midfield player at the club when Scott Brown isn’t fit.



    He’s improved, massively, in the last 12 months and clearly has the potential to be a huge talent.



    And as we’re dealing with the EPL and its inflated price tags, £10 million seems a fair assessment of what the player is currently worth, albeit I think he’d fetch more if we were playing in the Champions League.



    Nir’s agent didn’t say much more than that.



    What has happened here is typical, predictable and sad.



    The Scottish media, and The Record in particular, have twisted his words every which way. Before long, the agent’s comments were being spun as a “come and get him” plea to the clubs of England, but The Record, as ever, went further and said more.



    Today, Celtic has denied the story entirely, which is what you’d expect, but Bitton’s agent, Dudu Dahan – the foundation stone of The Record’s latest piece of fantasy – has also spoken out, and flatly denied ever saying that the player was set to quit Parkhead.



    “He’s very happy at Celtic,” he said, before reminding the world of the new contract his client has just signed. He went on to say how much Nir “loves being at Celtic” and how committed he is to the club.



    All this is to say that The Record has, again, been engaging in twisting words and manufacturing controversy where none exists.



    Scottish football came to a halt over the weekend, as the bad weather saw many of the games called off, so if we were being generous we could put this down to it being a slow news day, and leave it at that.



    But, of course, this is much more.



    When a national newspaper writes blatant lies and still has the brass neck to stick a price tag on the cover it brings the whole journalistic profession into disrepute.



    This story stinks so much that no-one was willing to put his name to it.



    It appears, on the website, under the by-line of Record Sports Online.



    It says something when no-one even wants to claim “credit” for a story like this, but it’s more about protecting the writers at that rag than protecting the profession itself. Neither the hacks or the editorial team at The Record care overmuch about the reputation of their trade.



    I wouldn’t expect them to.



    You have to be journalists first.



    None of them qualify.




    Read more at http://thecelticblog.com/2015/12/blogs/daily-record-at-it-again-as-bitton-story-falls-apart#3ikEcC6ZKAmm5iHi.99