I was struck by how open Mondays night game was, and how there seemed to be so much space when attacking (particularly for Man United, and particularly towards the end of the game). Gary Neville mentioned that the pitch is really big at Old Trafford in his recent biography, and anyone who has been lucky enough tovisit it will tesify it is a large field. This made us want to investigate…. according to this website (though dated in 2007.. gives us an idea): http://soccerlens.com/premier-league-pitch-sizes/3683/ – it’s the second-biggest pitch in the league… in fact, it’s 786 square yards bigger (by area) than White Hart Lane where Tottenham, the defeated team play! Spurs ground is small, close, intimate – probaby more theatre than the Theatre of Dreams. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that United tend to drop off rather than press when they’re not in posession, and are so effective on the counter-attack using all that space with quick decisive, youthful, direct attacking soccer.
And this to a US sports coach may seem odd, where standard field sizes are more defined, for example American football fields are a set 360 by 160 feet. Rugby league is played on a field 112-122 by 68 metres. In Rugby Union (yes there are two variants) the field of play on a pitch/field is as near as possible to a maximum of 144m long by 70m wide. In Lacrosse, the field of play is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (55 m) wide.)
The length of a full-size soccer pitch must be between 100 yards (90 metres) and 130 yards (120 metres) and the width between 50 yards (45 metres) and 100 yards (90 metres). It is not allowed to be square. These dimensions apply everywhere in the world. The pitch is rectangular in shape. The longer sides are called touchlines. The other opposing sides are called the goal lines. The two goal lines must be between 45 and 90 m (50 and 100 yd) and be the same length. The two touch lines must also be of the same length, and be between 90 and 120 m (100 and 130 yd) in length. However, in international matches, the goal lines must be between 64 and 75 m (70 and 80 yd) long and the touchlines must be between 100 and 110 m (110 and 120 yd). Still, there’s a lot of allowance there for size differences of a soccer field. huge differences.
Lets take Field Hockey for example, a similar sport to Soccer where 11 players per team are on the field at one time, typically on grass – okay, with a few more sticks of course. Their governing body dont allow for any misunderstanding, as laid down by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in the “Rules of Hockey”. As follows:
The pitch is a 91.40 m × 55 m (100 yd × 60 yd) rectangular field. At each end is a goal 2.14 m (7 feet) high and 3.66 m (12 ft) wide measured from the inner sides of the posts and crossbar, and an approximately semi-circular area 14.63 m (16 yd) from the goal known as the shooting circle (or D or arc), bounded by a solid line, with a dotted line 5 m (5 yd 6 in—this marking was not established until after metric conversion) from that, as well as lines across the field 22.90 m (25 yd) from each end-line (generally referred to as the 23 m lines) and in the center of the field. A spot 0.15m in diameter, called the penalty spot or stroke mark, is placed with its centre 6.40 m (7 yd) from the centre of each goal.
So why the broad acceptance of the variance in field sizes for soccer? Any idea?