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

move the goalposts

Change the rules in the middle of an enterprise, usually to make it more difficult for someone to succeed. The term originated in sports that use goalposts (soccer, rugby, football) in the second half of the 1900s. It soon was transferred to other enterprises. Jo Bannister had it in Liars All (2009): “. . . if they parted one day, she’d find someone to replace him . . . He didn’t blame her for that. It wasn’t Brodie who’d moved the goalposts.”
See also: move
References in periodicals archive ?
He said: "I am not moving the goalposts, the badgers moved the goalposts."
He said: "Darron was on the point of going to Sunderland and somewhere along the line I think Sunderland moved the goalposts.
Ferguson was yesterday quoted as saying the Republic of Ireland midfielder's move to the Stadium of Light broke down because the Black Cats "moved the goalposts".
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 your employer would want to agree to any exceptions.
The Black Cats boss claims the club has backed out of a move for one target after the player's club "moved the goalposts."
He said: "At no stage has 75,000 ever been mentioned publicly, why has he moved the goalposts? Our own work by specialists HoK shows our site could hold a 55,000-60,000 stadium which is what we were asked to work towards.
THE WIDER availability of singles may have moved the goalposts back in punters' favour, but shock results made it hard to make money on the first day of the Scottish season, writes Ian Coyne.
Now the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) have 'moved the goalposts' so it is no longer possible to be that aerodynamic."
World governing body UCI moved the goalposts, restricted the sprint quotas and did everything to try to prevent another Team GB landslide.
How do we know if, or how often, they have moved the goalposts in their bid to tick off "achievements"?
A leaked letter from BOA chief executive Andy Hunt to all Olympic sports in Britain claims IOC lawyers moved the goalposts before the March 7 meeting by demanding the BOA waive the right to pursue the dispute with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He said: "The fact that Newcastle moved the goalposts in the middle of the game is not how to do business.
Having spoken to my solicitor today I now find that the Government has again moved the goalposts, ie.
Supposedly set up to administer pitches on behalf of the racecourses, the NJPC has moved the goalposts so many times that its own rules now make it impossible for some bookmakers to make a living.
s s t d y e d World governing body UCI moved the goalposts, restricted the sprint quotas and did everything to try to prevent another Team GB landslide.