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 ?
'It is just so very sad that moving the goalposts at the very last minute ruined what would have been a happy, historic day.'
MARTIN O'NEILL is preparing to launch a late spending spree with Aston Villa before the transfer window closes despite admitting clubs are constantly "moving the goalposts."
The answer was along the lines of not moving the goalposts for the current season because that wouldn't be fair.
And in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday Minister Nigel Griffiths was barracked by backbench Labour MPs who warned moving the goalposts would hit some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Ahead of his Lewisham Hospital appeal, Jeremy Hunt has joined the badgers in moving the goalposts.
Union leaders accused Ofsted of "moving the goalposts".
Moving the goalposts: Peter Goodair, John Parker and Kate Granger.
Agents have a habit of moving the goalposts the second their client has enjoyed a solid spell of form - and the delay over Pienaar's permanent signing suggests something similar is happening here.
Despite Labour moving the goalposts, they constantly fail to hit their targets."
Gethin Lewis, secretary of the National Union of Teachers Cymru said, ``She is moving the goalposts and talking of affordability.
THEY'RE moving the goalposts at Tynecastle, folks, as rugby league comes to the capital.
They keep moving the goalposts on how many exist and how many need to be killed."
Kevin Chapman, from the West Midlands Campaign for Better Transport, said this amounted to "moving the goalposts".
SHEFFIELD Wednesday boss Brian Laws has accused Southampton of "moving the goalposts" after a move for striker Grzegorz Rasiak collapsed.
Leaders of the Merseytram project were in an optimistic mood as they returned to Merseyside last night and said the Government could not keep "moving the goalposts".
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