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December 2019
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Time to get ready for this season’s rule changes

By Tony Attwood

There is not too much being written about the differences between last season and the 2019/20 campaign – but there really are a number of interesting twists which are, I suspect, going to take a few players, and commentators, by surprise.

There are changes to the rules on free kicks, substitutions, goal kicks, penalties… well the list goes on, and then on some more.   So I’ll try and pick out a few of the more exciting new rules.

1: Stop the pushing and shoving around the defensive wall

We have often seen a fair old bit of pushing and shoving going on when a defensive wall is formed to protect the goal from a free kick in a goal scoring position.   The wall takes up its position, and the attacking side’s players try to disrupt the wall, taking up positions in front of the wall, and trying to barge their way into the wall.

The new rule says that if there is a wall of three or more players, no attacking player is allowed within one metre of the wall.

So what will teams do to overcome this when attacking?   One option will be to have a line of players standing on either side of the wall and maybe two paces back.  As the free kick expert runs up to take the kick these players run with him but on either side of the wall, heading into centre of the area, with the aim of putting the keeper off.  (It is rather disconcerting to have the ball coming at you and players running in fromt both sides.)

It will take practice but if the players can get level with the kicker as he kicks, but be moving at full speed they will have an advantage with the wall-based players facing the other way.

The alternative is to abandon the idea of having a shot from the free kick, and instead lob the ball upwards, again with several attacking players running in underneath it.

This could then mean that the players of the defending side will abandon the idea of the long wall – but then that will allow the attackers back into their position in front of the ball.

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2: A change to the meaning of “in play”

“In play” is an important issue because it defines when the normal rules of football apply, and the “in play” rule is changing this season for goal kicks.   When a goal kick is taken the ball is in play from that very moment – meaning that a keeper can kick the ball a few feet to a defender if the team likes to play out from the back. The ball doesn’t have to leave the area.

Of course the keeper and defender don’t then have it all their own way as attackers can rush forward the moment the ball is kicked – and the keeper can’t pick the ball up if the defender gives it back to him.

This could slow the game down – if a team wants to waste time, or speed it up, as it will allow a faster deliver of the ball up the pitch.  Attackers after all won’t know who to mark if there are several defenders hanging around in the area waiting for the ball.   And if a number press forward, then the keeper could still thump the ball up the pitch.

3: Substitutions

The idea of subs having to leave the pitch near the tunnel came about after a notorious Manchester United player left the pitch at the nearest point, was abused by a Crystal Palace fan, and then attacked the Palace fan.  The problem is that clubs have exploited the knowledge that players have to walk across the pitch, by indicating to players that they should waste time by going and standing on the far side – often close to the corner flag.

The thinking is that this time wasting is constant, and with Cantona now retired there is far less danger of a player attacking a fan on his walk around the ground.

But of course this now opens the way for home fans to abuse away players when they are substituted.  Maybe home teams should be forced to provide escorts.  Or perhaps there should be entry points to underground exits, every five yards or so around the pitch.

4: No hanky panky over penalties

Goalkeeper tactics such as the waving of the arms, pulling the crossbar, jumping up and down, kicking the posts and the like is now off limits.  The new rule is the keeper takes up his position and stands still.  The keeper is also not allowed to stand behind the goal line but must stand on it, meaning the boots have to be touching it.

5: No dropped balls

In a situation which would have led to a drop ball in the past, now the last side to touch the ball passes it back to the opposition.   If however the game is stopped in the penalty area, the goalkeeper restarts the game no matter what the situation.

However if play is stopped with the ball in the penalty area, other than for a foul or offside, it will restart with the goalkeeper no matter which team had possession. 

6: Handballs – no excuse.

A ball hitting the hand of an attacking player is always handball irrespective of whether it was accidental.

So no accidental claims.  And with VAR that should make it easier to see what’s what.

7: Excessive celebrations can be booked.

This appears to be an attempt to regulate the arrival of VAR and stop players celebrating a lot while VAR is doing its thing.

8:  Changing the table

Where teams are tied in the league on points, goal difference, goals scored and goals against (the four ways of separating clubs at the moment) then as happens in some leagues already, the games between the two teams will be taken into account.

This can mean quite a lot in terms of prize money for position in the league, but more importantly, it could be used to decide which team is in which competition in Europe.

13 comments to Time to get ready for this season’s rule changes

  • Les Martin

    I would like a return to the system of 2 points for a win counting retrospectively from last season …hmmm.

  • tim flanagan

    My only real concern about these is the handball one. I mean what can you do if a player laces one from 30cm out of reach straight into your arm or hand? Seems a little unfair.Its an area Ive long thought needed sorting but not sure this the right way.I can see a lot of penalties and a lot of VAR calls from this one.

  • MickHazel

    I agree with you tim flanagan, this change to the handball law will lead to all sorts of controversy. It’s another invitation to the cheats to exploit the rules as I think we will sometimes see a forward purposely play the ball onto an opponents arm in a deliberate attempt to get a penalty.

  • Nitram

    Mostly something and nothing really.

    But I do like number one.

    Truth be told the infiltration of the wall very rarely facilitated the scoring of a goal.

    To the attacking side it wasn’t actually about getting the player ‘within’ the wall that was important, but more to do with the chaos and mayhem the actual ‘process’ of trying to infiltrate the wall caused to the defence in the first place.

    Argueing, lose of concentration, confusion, distraction, all things far more likely to lead to the consession of a goal than actually having an opponent within the wall.

    I mean come on, it’s hard enough to hit the target let alone hit it whilst first having to guide the ball through a 1 metre gap on the way.

    So I think a good rule.

    I alsolike nuber 6.

    To me the fewer subjective decisions there are the better. Once upon a time there were 2 definitions of hand ball. Accidental and deliberate. And that was bad enough.

    We all like to think we can tell the difference, but can we? Honestly.Nobody, and I mean nobody except the actuall player that handles the ball knows for sure. Baring the odd ‘save’ in every other case everyone else is just guessing. It becomes a matter of opinion. And one you have that then in reality a refcn never be wrong, or right, depending on YOUR opinion. If you agree with him he ‘got that one right’. If you don’t ‘he got that one wrong’. It’s amine field and leaves far too much room for the referee to interpret in favour of………well I think you understand.

    I know on occasion everyone of is going to feel hard done by but once taken away from the referee it should ballance out. Yes you can curse yourluck but not the cheating b******d in black.

    I thought 7 was in place already.

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    “I think we will sometimes see a forward purposely play the ball onto an opponents arm in a deliberate attempt to get a penalty.”

    This is of course true. But would that be ‘cheating’ per say? Is it not a skill?

    If it is a skill then we will have players just as capable of utilising it as anyone else.

    Defenders will have to learn to Shepheard the attacker with his arms behind his back as many already do.

    All I know is, taking the subjectivity out of it, or more importantly taking the final decision on handball or no hand ball away from the referee or perhaps now the VAR panel, can only be a good thing for us.

  • Adrian

    So body hugging (ala Smalling) & pulling back will still be tolerated at corners. And talking about corners I now see they are putting the ball down well outside the line but still a few millimetres above so technically “still in the triangle”. I’ve also noticed it at penalties were players are now putting it ahead of the spot not on it hoping the ref doesn’t notice. All the time pushing the boundaries to try and gain an advantage and deceive referees.

  • Menace

    no 4 has now reduced the goalkeepers chance of saving a penalty by 60%.
    The taker should also have to stand on a line and must have a maximum no of steps before kicking the baal. The Pogba dance of a million steps should also have been addressed.

    The corner quadrant should have been addressed as all of the ball must be inside the quadrant.

    No 1 – the Trump wall. The free kick should be taken within 30 seconds of being given and walls should not be allowed the time to be set up.

    The throw in must be taken by the first opponent to pick the ball up within 30 seconds of having the ball or the throw is given to the other side. Time wasted by the game is too expensive and referees get more than their fair share of TV exposure. In the professional game a referee that ‘has a word’ with a player is showing bias. If the player has committed a foul then book him/her.

    A player shielding a ball must be deemed to have played it. The ‘run out of the ball for a goal kick’ will stop and either the ball will be kept in play or a corner will ensue.

  • Menace

    sp – baal – ball.

  • omgarsenal

    The intent of the IFAB changes is clear. By simplifying some of the rules and streamlining the application of others, FIFA wants to make the officiating a little more precise, in conformity with the current rules, by improving the application of the Laws by the match officials and the enjoyment of the game by the spectators. I strongly suggest that anyone wishing to comment on these changes read the IFAB explanations (FIFA’s website) for such changes in 2019-2020 before coming here to criticize them.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let’s wait to see how the changes to the rules for the PL matches next season will workout when the Pgmol match officiating officials start to interpret the rules in matches to master them before us the Arsenal fans will start complaining after seeing one or two reasons in the interpretations of the new rules that called for our complaints.

    On Arsenal transfer signings this summer window, a Journio has opined in the media that if Arsenal sign the Brazil Gramio FC wide forward player Everton Soares this summer, his signing should solve Arsenal perennial problem of not making a PL top-four place finish that has now run to 3 consecutive seasons as us Gooners are all aware. The Journio went on opining that despite that the Arsenal forward duo of Auba’ and Laca’ accounted for more than the half of the total goals that Arsenal scored last season in the PL, there were the periods during the last season’s campaign in the PL when goals scoring efforts for Arsenal from the duo forwards dried up. And this had led to the club dropping points as there were no other top quality forwards available in the first team squad but the duo who could intervene to stop the goals scoring drought from continuing when goals scoring from Auba’ and Laca’ dried up which made Arsenal to drop those unforgiving points that they dropped to Leicester, C Palace, Wolves and Brighton that consequently saw Arsenal missed out on the PL top-four place finish last season.

    I think I will buy in into the Journio’s opinion or should I say I’ve bought in into his opinion. Because in the actual sense of good reasoning, Arsenal need to sign 2 top quality wide attackers in the qualities of Wilfred Zaha and Everton Soares this summer if the club is not only aspiring to get a top-four place finish next season, but also to seriously contest for the PL title win next season.

    I’ve watched Everton Soares’ exploits for Brazil national team in the last COPA America final on TV recently played in Brazil where he scored a goal and won a penalty for his team who beat Peru 3-1 to lift the COPA trophy. Everton timed his arriving in the Peru 18 yard area running from back to the left side connection to a pass from the right and took to low powerful shot in one swift giving the Peru goalkeeper no chance as he didn’t break or stop to control the ball before side footing the ball strongly to the back of the net for Brazil to take the lead in the match in the first half. And he later in the second half was beating a couple of Peru defenders when running into the box, but he was wrestled down by one of the Peru defenders to give a penalty to Brazil.

    Everton is fast, agile and can dribble his opponent players. And can time his run in into the opponent’s box escaping markings to meet a pass. I think if Arsenal sign Everton this summer who can play on both the left and right wings very well, Arsenal will be signing a wide player who should be an upgrade to what Mkhitaryan and Iwobi have offered Arsenal in these two positions last season. But I am not saying Arsenal should sell the duo of Mkhi and Iwobi this summer if they sign Everton and Zaha this summer. But keep them for option and for to cover and also for senior first team squad dept next season. After all, with Martinez looking to have filled the vacuum of the 2nd goalkeeper at the club left vacant after Petr Cech has left, there are still 4 vacant positions that are needing to be filled in the club 25 senior team squad of last season after Ramsey, Welbeck Lichtsteiner have all left the club at the end of last season. And most likely Koscielny could follow the 4 Arsenal leavers to leave the club this summer. But in his own leaving the club if it happens this summer, a centreback signing by Arsenal could be done as replacement to him.

    So, in essence, below are the new senior team squad players who I’ll love to see Arsenal sign this summer to not only bid for a top-four place PL finish, but at the same time challenge seriously for the PL title win next season.

    These new senior team players are: Kieran Tierney, Everton Soares, Wilfred Zaha and Ceballos if Emery insist on signing him from Real Madrid either on a loan or permanent deal this summer if he believes he will efficiently contributes his own quota to the Arsenal efforts to not only get a PL top-four place finish next season but as well win the title too.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I agree with Adrian that the issue of holding and pushing during corners and freekicks be addressed . It sometimes appears ludicrous , and more akin to WWE holds. No player should hold , push or in any way obstruct or infringe upon an opponent .

    Likewise I would love to see our players not be seen blindly chasing an opponent inside and around the box, but rather concentrate on getting to the incoming ball first. Detest in all attempts in preventing the opposition player in his attempt to run around like a headless chicken !

    Freekicks will be interesting , now that the attacking player is not allowed to disturb or disrupt the wall. More crosses in please . And more width .

  • MickHazel

    New handball regulations copied from IFAB….

    Handball – Law 12
    Changes
    Deliberate handball remains an offence.
    The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:
    The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm.
    A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm•and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity.
    The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger.
    The ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm).

    The following will not usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the above situations:
    The ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near.
    The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger.
    If a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger).
    If the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball.

    Explanation
    Greater clarity is needed for handball, especially on those occasions when ‘non- d•eliberate’ handball is an offence. The re-wording follows a number of principles:
    Football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental)
    Football expects a player to be penalised for handball if they gain possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity
    It is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling.
    Having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a ‘natural’ position and a player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when sliding
    If the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by, onto the hands/arms it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball
    When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball so, if the ‘clearance’ attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offence

    As far as I can see there will still be a sufficient degree of subjective interpretation available to referees to enable them to screw us as much as they have in the past.

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    Indeed there does.

    In fact it’s nothing like 6 above.