KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: European federation UEFA has killed off the away goals rule which has been used in its international club competitions since 1965.

The decision has ratified a recommendation from the club competitions committee and the women’s football committee and takes effect as soon as the qualifying phases of the 2021-22 competitions.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: “Abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.”

He added: “The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact,  it now dissuades home teams – especially in first legs – from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.

“There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.

“Home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.

“Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the executive committee [considers] it is no longer appropriate.”

Two-leg ties knockout ties level on goals after 90 minutes of the second leg will now go to extra time and then, if necessary, penalties.

A UEFA statement said: “Statistics from the mid-1970s until now show a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home/away wins (from 61pc/19pc to 47pc/30pc) and the average number of goals per match scored at home/away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15) in men’s competitions, whereas since 2009-10, the average goals per game have remained very steady in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with the overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams.”

It added: “Many different factors may be considered as having an impact on this decline in home advantage.

“Better pitch quality and standardised pitch sizes, improved stadium infrastructure, higher security conditions, enhanced care of refereeing (and more recently the introduction of technological support such as GLT and VAR), wider and more sophisticated TV coverage of matches, more comfortable travel conditions, a compressed calendar dictating squad turnover, and changes in competition formats are all elements which have affected the way football is played and blurred the lines between playing at home and away.