move the goalposts

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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 ?
Once Beijing's goal of supplying 10 percent of its energy mix with gas is met, the government will in all likelihood move the goal posts again, first to 15 percent and then to 20 percent, the report said.
They cannot move the goal posts by selling members a policy with fixed benefits and then changing the rules midway through the life of the policy to reduce those benefits, Ms Court said.
Not much point having an airmile scheme if you move the goal posts when it suits you.
As the 2015 deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, world leaders will face a choice: Move the goal posts back another decade or two, or hold accountable those who have failed to deliver on their commitments.
Flame retardants represent an area of research that is constantly in demand as the need for ever safer materials and the changes in legislation and law move the goal posts in terms of chemicals that are allowed, and the effect that removing current chemicals has on the materials in use at the present time.
After the vote, and not for the first time when their dictatorial impulses have been challenged, the government immediately flagged that they would move the goal posts if they could.
MOVE THE GOAL POSTS What will sport look like if alcohol money goes?
And then lads' mags have to come along and move the goal posts even further.
Mansel Raymond, who was speaking at the South West Dairy Event, said it was unacceptable that milk buyers could move the goal posts.
The decision to move the goal posts of Ofsted inspection, treating Pupil Referal Units (PRUs) as if they were mainstream schools is tantamount to declaring Special Educational Needs to be an imaginary condition.
But even though we've answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
Mr Woodley said: "I am disgusted that a business such as Burton's Foods is threatening to move the goal posts on a deal agreed by myself and its loyal and efficient workforce that guaranteed work until at least 2012.
And Cllr Corbett said: "It is unfair to move the goal posts when the game has started.
Instead, he demonstrates that he is no different from President Bush in his willingness to move the goal posts, change the subject and stay the course in Iraq.