move the goalposts

move the goalposts

To alter the rules or parameters of a situation in such a way as to suit one's needs or objectives, making it more difficult for someone else to succeed, keep pace, or achieve an opposing objective. I hate arguing with that type of person. As soon as you start wearing down their logic, they just move the goalposts on the whole thing! We're never going to get the book design finished in time if the publisher keeps moving the goalposts every couple of months like this! Claiming victory after cutting the tax by a small fraction when in fact you had said you'd abolish it altogether is really moving the goalposts, isn't it?
See also: move

move the goalposts

If someone moves the goalposts, they change the rules or aims in a situation or activity, in order to gain an advantage and to make things more difficult for the other people involved. He was always moving the goalposts so that we could never anticipate what he wanted. They seem to move the goalposts every time I meet the required conditions. Note: You can also say that someone shifts the goalposts. The administration is shifting the goalposts and changing its demands.
See also: move

move (or shift) the goalposts

unfairly alter the conditions or rules of a procedure during its course.
1989 Dimensions Many companies have, in recent years, moved the goalposts so that those who used to qualify no longer do so.
See also: move

move the ˈgoalposts

(informal, disapproving, especially British English) change the rules for something, or the conditions under which it is done, so that the situation becomes more difficult for somebody: Our union is angry at the management for moving the goalposts during the pay talks. Every time agreement is reached they put up another obstacle.
See also: move
References in periodicals archive ?
After one declined, some others wanted to, um, move the goalposts.
He told Popsugar Australia: "We're always joking that we move the goalposts of what we're aiming for all the time.
So long as the pesky animals don't move the goalposts again and, for example, move into the city.
Everybody will have a different perspective and will move the goalposts to judge whether it's moving forward or not.
CAMPAIGNERS have raised concerns that a review of fuel poverty will move the goalposts on tackling the issue, as the Government announced who will lead the inquiry.
In reality, what Ofsted has done yet again is to move the goalposts.
We are going to move the goalposts, I think they as a matter of conscience and frankly political good judgment, are going to want to look carefully at their investment portfolio.
Van der Logt laughed that hewas tempted to move the goalposts.
Did she already move the goalposts and just looking for rationalization
Far from being to blame for this farce, it looks like the council's only fault has been to try to find away forward from Cardiff City's attempt to - yet again - move the goalposts on this increasingly farcical project.
Eleven VCs from the conflict are on show in Brecon Military Museum, home of the Welsh Border Regiment that was formed two years after the Zulu Wars had ceased and the MoD decided to move the goalposts by merging various regiments.
Furious MPs have attacked Government attempts to move the goalposts on the miners' compensation scheme in a way which threatens to leave tens of thousands of widows in Wales without any payout.
Employers of firefighters again move the goalposts.
So rather than actually deal with the nub of the problem - that ambulance crews are struggling to reach targets because of intolerable pressures - they're just going to move the goalposts.
The problem is he'd love to move the goalposts - with a bulldozer.