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 Nats moved the goalposts last year, when it became clear the pledge would be broken.
But his club have moved the goalposts and this is not acceptable.
This time, having already metaphorically moved the goalposts once by refusing to adhere to Fifa's 90-day ruling, they want to literally use a different set by switching to a plastic pitch at the Luzinkhi Stadium.
But, before the powerful leaders had time to read the report, they had moved the goalposts -- they went to war because Saddam Hussein had every intention of reviving his weapons programmes.
Obviously Chelsea's millions have moved the goalposts somewhat,but we still have our targets.
It WAS the most exciting show in its day - and it still would be if the big record companies hadn't moved the goalposts.
The Government has moved the goalposts on us and are penalising us for being successful.
The new announcement has moved the goalposts for you so you need to clarify whether you can be an exception to the new rule, although it is unlikely that your employer would want to agree to any exceptions.
Magazine editor John Carroll comments, ``The new Range Rover has simply moved the goalposts of 4x4 design.
But astonishingly Fulham have now moved the goalposts and want the cash up front rather than an instalment package.
It should have been before that but a major creditor moved the goalposts.
He said: "Stevie could have been a Hearts player a month ago but Robinson moved the goalposts.
The Italian hothead is negotiating a new contract and he thought he was close to agreeing terms - but after scoring the opener in a win against Derby he claimed Villa had moved the goalposts.
He hasn't reneged on a single promise, it's just that you've moved the goalposts.
A spokesman said the council also continually moved the goalposts on what they wanted done at the fire board HQ.