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 ?
The removal of the original end date for funding established deficits has moved the goal posts for NWOs and presents new opportunities.
But in the words of teachers' leader Dr Philip Dixon: "As England has moved the goal posts, the issue is not so clear-cut as some might wish.
This bid process - which the CMA contended 'could not take place' - is now in fact taking place, but Mr (Simon) Polito and the CMA have again moved the goal posts to argue that Ryanair can somehow block an IAG bid for Aer Lingus from succeeding when it is patently clear that as a 29% shareholder, Ryanair cannot prevent IAG acquiring control of Aer Lingus.
Fletcher had a medical at West Ham on Friday, but the move collapsed after the Hammers moved the goal posts, insisting any deal would have to be temporary, rather than permanent.
But van Gaal said after yesterday's match that the deal had fallen through after West Ham moved the goal posts.
Mr Harrison said: "We put our case forward, that we have matched the money as asked, but they have moved the goal posts and said it needs PS2m to PS3m worth of work.
So they moved the goal posts and delayed implementation.
Defra secretary, Owen Paterson, declared satisfaction with events so far, and when asked why more time as needed, replied laughingly that 'the badgers have moved the goal posts.
Vic Clarke, for the Wellesley Old Boys, said: "The trust has moved the goal posts.
Or maybe you have a perfect product and government regulators have moved the goal posts a few times on you, delaying your product's market launch and allowing the competition to release its version first and gain valuable time and market share.
Quinn moved the goal posts for Irish recruits when he won senior honours after six months as an Aussie rules player but he never scaled those heights again.
One reason some Korea analysts believe the North is probably no closer to achieving the one-one relations it wants with the US is that it has moved the goal posts on facilitating engagement with Washington by declaring itself a nuclear power and blatantly pursuing both nuclear and ballistic missile progress this year.
Increased production costs, particularly the price of raw materials,ahave moved the goal posts for competitive production almost as fast as the price of oil has increased," writes Henningsen.
To use another cliche, they have moved the goal posts.