The away goals rule has been steadfastly applied throughout much of the history of European football. The rule means that there is an advantage given when a team scores away from home, with the advantage being applied at the end of two legged ties. The away goal rule is most commonly used in the Champions League and Europa League and was originally devised to give an advantage to teams playing against unfamiliar opponents in an unfamiliar climate.
However, the rule is coming under increasing pressure, with notable figures such as current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger branding it outdated and unnecessary.
So does Mr Wenger have a point? Do we need a rule that gives an advantage to the away team in an age where every team can study any opponents they are likely to come up against with the aid of modern technology?
UEFA argue it promotes attacking football from the away team. However, how many times over the years have the away team grabbed an early away goal and then switched to a defensive style reminiscent of Italian teams from the late 1990s and early 2000s?
Clearly, teams have figured out over the years that the best way to exploit the rule by aiming for an exact or appropriate scoreline that will help them advance over the two legged tie.
Another clearly farcical act with regards to the away goals rule is implementing them in the English Capital One Cup semi-final stage. How can a competition primarily played over single legs require a two legged semi-final for which the away goals rule is implemented? Do we really need to change the entire style of game in the competition in order to exploit a rule which is only active at this stage of the competition?
This is the equivalent of giving the big teams and effective head start. Any small team may be able to grab the occasional goal, but if they ship an away goal they are then required to score two in order to force the game back in their favour.
In conclusion it is my view that in the current era, with all the technology available enabling clubs to set parameters and drills in which to adequately prepare against any opposition worldwide, the away goals rule is absolutely unnecessary and should be scrapped.
However I do concede that many of the older generation may be resistant to the change, having watched many years of this style of football on the European stage. But I would argue that football is full of change, what with the introduction of substitutions, the implementation of the penalty shootout, and the implementation of the group stage in the Champions League and Europa league.
This is why, as a football supporter, I feel that it is time to change this particular rule.