ONE of the more curious experiments being carried out this year within the Laws of the Game is the changing of the order of kicks from the penalty mark, more colloquially known as ‘the Penalty Shoot-out’.

Curious because it means that someone, somewhere has been keeping records.

As the law stands, if at a game which must have a winner, scores are level at the end of regular time, the competition rules will allow for extra time to be played and if still a draw, the game will be decided by kicks from the penalty spot.

Some competitions such as Berks & Bucks FA Cups, forgo extra time and go straight to penalties. Up until last season the referee decided at which goal the kicks would be taken, but this was changed to a toss of a coin, unless there are exceptional pitch circumstances.

There is then another coin toss and the winning side decide whether to go first or second. The kicks are then taken alternately.

This is what the lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, think may be unfair. It is claimed that the team going second is more likely to lose the ‘shoot-out’. The reason given is that this creates greater stress for their players.

Presumably, the IFAB have figures to prove this claim and will keep records of games in the experiment, at the same level, to see if the revised order makes any difference.

The new order for the experiment has been called the ABBA sequence, Team A will take the first kick and then team B will take the next two kicks and then it goes back to team A, ABBA.

The sequence is then repeated. Of course, when the kicks get to the fifth ones for each team, often the most stressful, team B will still be going last.

Reading supporters, might like to think back to earlier this year, when their chances of Premiership football this season depended on kicks from the penalty spot. Remember who went first?