New rule changes for 2019-20

Sunday, 19 May, 2019 43comments  |  Jump to last

In addition to Video Assistant Referees (VAR) making its debut in the Premier League, six new rules will be instituted in the Premier League next season.


In cases where the ball accidentally strikes an attacking player's hand before crossing the goal line, goals will now be ruled out. If a player has accidentally handled the ball and created an advantage or then scores, a free kick will be awarded to the defending team.

Free kicks

Attacking teams will no longer be allowed to have players line up in a defensive wall. When there is a wall of three or more players, no attacking players will be allowed to stand within one metre. Including attacking players in defensive walls has been deemed to run contrary to the spirit of the game.


With officials still failing to mandate that goalkeepers remain on their goal-lines when facing penalty kicks, the new rules state that keepers must have at least part of one foot on or in line with the goal-line when the spot kick is taken.

They also won't be able to move on the line or touch the goalposts as the taker is preparing to shoot.

Drop balls

The contested drop ball will be a thing of the past, with new regulations stipulating that the ball simply be returned to the team who last touched it before play was stopped. If that was in the penalty area, the ball will be handed to the goalkeeper.​


To cut down on time-wasting, players will be made to leave the pitch at the nearest point on the touchline so that they can no longer walk or jog slowly the length of the pitch before being substituted.

Cards for coaches and managers

Managers and coaches on the sidelines can now be shown yellow or red cards for any poor behaviour, just like the players. In the event of a touchline fracas where the offending individual cannot be easily identified, the senior coach in the technical area will be the default recipient of a card.


Reader Comments (43)

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Brian Williams
1 Posted 20/05/2019 at 16:42:47
In cases where the ball accidentally strikes an attacking player's hand before crossing the goal line, goals will now be ruled.

Ruled out I believe you mean?

Brent Stephens
2 Posted 20/05/2019 at 17:25:53
What if attacker A shoots at goal, with the ball on target and accidentally striking the hand of attacker B, who is nearer the goal and onside? No goal?!
Brian Williams
3 Posted 20/05/2019 at 17:57:25
No goal is correct Brent.
Tom Bowers
4 Posted 20/05/2019 at 18:27:25
Just adds more confusion to the existing rules and will cause more debatable moments.
Fans may see something as obvious and VAR may rule it differently.
Just saw Clattenburg miss two obvious offensive fouls in an old game which immediately led to 2 penalties against the defensive team and ultimate defeat.
Poor refereeing will still be evident despite VAR.
John Pierce
5 Posted 20/05/2019 at 18:50:51
If it hits an attacker albeit accidentally and they with blow it then why won’t they apply the same to a defender? This rule has more loopholes in it than tax law. Madness.

Brent your point is totally valid. Player A shoots into an unguarded goal, no defending players within playing distance, it hits player B on the arm, and they want to rule that out? The action would make zero difference to the outcome. A goal would still be scored, and yet if it hit them and deflects wide they would not award the foul. You cannot have both.
That madness is contradictory to a defender in the same scenario. Where the ball strikes them accidentally why is a penalty not awarded then?

I’m not advocate of the change. But at the very minimum the rule should be the same for both attacking and defending scenarios.

I’m pretty much done with refereeing football because the rules are so out -moded it give the official nothing to manage things with. Truly depressing.

Brian Williams
6 Posted 20/05/2019 at 19:08:18
That madness is contradictory to a defender in the same scenario. Where the ball strikes them accidentally why is a penalty not awarded then?

John, it may well be that a penalty WOULD be awarded in that instance.

What, I believe, the rule has been created for is to stop teams conceding a goal via the hand/arm of an opposing player whether accidental or not.

Who's come up with the changes I don't know but it's a bit of a a farce!

Kevin Prytherch
7 Posted 20/05/2019 at 19:34:13
The handball one, basically states that any handball, intentional or accident
Kevin Prytherch
8 Posted 20/05/2019 at 19:39:27
Grr iPhones...
Ignore the last post anyway, I just researched it and was referring to a proposal that never actually got implemented
Brent Stephens
9 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:13:08
John #5 is right, isn't he?? If the ball hits the attacker's hand albeit accidentally, that's deemed to be an offence. But not if it hits a defender's hand accidentally without going into the net?!!! Or is Brian right - it would be a penalty even though accidental??

John Pierce
10 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:47:43
Brian that’s the madness of it for sure. If it that is case then if it deflects of a defenders arm in the goal, if the rule is to be consistently applied then a penalty not a goal should be awarded.
By allowing involuntary arm deflections you allow goals to stand at either end were the action doesn’t change the outcome. That’s what we want, but you can’t award a penalty instead if the deflection doesn’t go in. That’s robbery, if truly accidental you play regardless of outcome.
You cannot have a rule for defending and a rule for attacking. That’s fundamentally unfair. But hey ho.
James Hughes
11 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:53:22
Rule changes are irrelevant if the ref still gets it wrong on the day.

VAR is still cutting its teeth but I will hope for the best.

Martin Mason
12 Posted 20/05/2019 at 22:07:28
What is wrong with attacking players getting stuck into the defensive wall?
Brent Stephens
13 Posted 20/05/2019 at 22:19:24
Martin "What is wrong with attacking players getting stuck into the defensive wall?"

I wonder if it's just to make the ref's life easier?

Andy Crooks
14 Posted 20/05/2019 at 22:31:21
Does anyone remember the "You are the ref", feature in the old "Shoot" magazine? For example:

"A player is about to take a penalty, a lion wanders onto the pitch, it does not, however, encroach in the D. The player scores but is subsequently killed by the lion. Does the goal stand?"

Those were the days when reffing was easy.

Paul Tran
15 Posted 20/05/2019 at 22:35:07
I remember it well, Andy. The game was much simpler in those days, with plenty taken on trust on all sides. And plenty of stuff dished out by all sides.
Brent Stephens
16 Posted 20/05/2019 at 22:48:27
The game was easier in those days, Paul?! With lions on the pitch?!
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
17 Posted 21/05/2019 at 06:27:08
Yes Brent it was easier.

Depending on how hungry the lion was the result was based on the last team who still had players alive.

There was one game though, where the lion ate the ref first and it had to be abandonded. (**thorpe-torquay)

Alan J Thompson
18 Posted 21/05/2019 at 06:44:15
"Drop Balls"- I'd have thought they may have legislated for circumstances leading to this being necessary. Do you play on until the referee blows otherwise or is the ball going out of play considered an action to deliberately stop play and if I welly it from the halfway line to my opponents goal line where is the ball returned?
Alan J Thompson
19 Posted 21/05/2019 at 06:49:41
Would they be British Lions?
David Pearl
20 Posted 21/05/2019 at 17:36:57
I don't like the new substitute rule. So a player goes off on the other side of the pitch and has to walk all the way around while still wearing his jersey and possibly inciting the crowd, basically just getting in the way. Would it just be easier to put a 20 second limit on them getting to the man coming on. (Or woman). If he doesn't then the person coming on gets a yellow card. ? I'm just making this up, just like the FA. For the most part I like the changes.
Mike Gaynes
21 Posted 21/05/2019 at 17:54:43
David, I think that's a great change. The time-wasting of these aimless walkabouts coming off the pitch is so obvious. Instead of putting it on the ref to time the exit stroll, or issue a needless yellow that would waste even more time, just get the guy off the pitch the shortest way possible and resume play.

And as a ref I won't miss the drop ball, either.

Dennis Stevens
22 Posted 21/05/2019 at 18:23:21
Is removing the requirement for dropped balls a concession for the women's game?
Stale Haverstadlokken
23 Posted 21/05/2019 at 18:34:08
This is tiny and irrelevant changes. What should have been done, is to give a penalty when defenders are holding opponents in the box.
Darren Hind
24 Posted 21/05/2019 at 18:43:28
Time wasting makes hypocrites of us all.
Steve Ferns
25 Posted 21/05/2019 at 18:52:02
Save the lions
Steve Carse
26 Posted 21/05/2019 at 18:59:21
I thought the big change being contemplated was to rule in favour of a penalty for handball even if it was neither intentional nor a result of the defender having as a result made his body a larger obstacle. Presumably this is not being implemented then. Good -- the only outcome of that woud be attackers deliberately aiming the ball at an opponents hand.

Also on the matter of penalties, wasn't it also being proposed that the ball would be deemed 'dead' once the penalty was struck so that if saved the game would be stopped and the ball presented back to the goalkeeper to restart play. Another stupid idea and again hopefully discarded.

On another issue with rules, why on earth do we still have the rule whereby a player who has needed treatment after a foul is taken off the pitch after treatment and left on the sidelines whilst play is restarted, leaving his side disadvantaged despite being the victims.

John McFarlane Snr
27 Posted 21/05/2019 at 19:42:49
Hi Stale [23] I don't believe that these are tiny and irrelevant changes, although I agree that referees should have been stricter on grappling, and shirt pulling incident

I am old school in my attitude to football, and that means that I consider that what we called 'ball to hand', is unjustly punished. It appears to me also that the uncontested 'dropped ball', has been in operation for some time, another retrograde step. I can see nothing wrong with the 'Old Law', requiring the goalkeeper to remain motionless on his line.

Regarding a substituted player, leaving the field of play at the nearest point, I have no objections to this, it enables his replacement to join the fray immediately. If managers/coaches behave in an unacceptable manner, then yellow or red cards are, in my opinion, the order of the day, but what I find [unacceptable' is] if there is a touchline 'fracas' and the offending individual cannot be easily identified, then the senior coach in the technical area, will be the 'default recipient of a card'. I don't see the justice in selecting a 'scapegoat'.

Tony Cawson
28 Posted 21/05/2019 at 23:49:48
Looking forward to the inevitable subbed player distracting a defender playing offside. Or, even remaining on the pitch oblivious, with his or her replacement rushed on.

12 men on the pitch, be just like LFC matches every week.

Alex Carew
29 Posted 22/05/2019 at 10:38:01
What if the attackers handball is advantageous to Liverpool or a Liverpool keeper is dancing on the line or a manager with wonky teeth is seen running across the pitch against the spirit of the game. I’m assuming these will all be deemed to be invalid leading to a stretching of the rules to avoid a petition of 1 million twats.
Shane Corcoran
30 Posted 22/05/2019 at 10:51:09
David #20, inciting the crowd? The poor old fans having to put up with an opposition player walking with five metres of them. Bring in a yellow and red card for idiot fans that can't keep their mouths shut from the safety of the stand.

I like the informal nature of giving the ball back to the keeper and putting the injured player off at the nearest point. I'm surprised they've done it.

Also, getting the bloody attacker out of the wall is right too. Trying to block the 'keeper is very much unsporting. Just play the bloody game and let the best team win.

Jer Kiernan
31 Posted 22/05/2019 at 11:59:03
Regards the timewasting antics of sub ( waving, blowing kisses to crowd, shaking hands with officials and opponents, kissing babies etc ) I find the current system of the refs adding time on at end both archaic and not very accurate. Should have a timekeeper on the sideline like Rugby if actual football is not being playing then clock stops simple(lining up walls etc ), so there is 90 min of actual football played, This should make it futile to timewaste as not matter what the antic the balls not moving so the clock is stopped

A reitteration of the fact that penalties should only be award if the challenge is deemed a DELIBERATE foul as opposed to the sky special of a "coming together" to justify the outragous tactics used by some of todays stars else we could spend half the afternoon watching replays, Was there intent ? If not then not then no pen

Why does my mind go to Charlie Chaplin wearing Rollerskates on a Threadmill and a certain Mr Salah

Rob Halligan
32 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:04:35
Jer # 31. I remember Dermot Gallagher on SSN the other week talking about the new rule changes. One he mentioned was the time wasting when teams make subs etc. His idea was, because in most games anyway, the actual playing time is anything between 55 - 60 minutes, why not have a playing time of 60 minutes, 30 minutes each way. Then, as you say, a time keeper on the touchline can stop/start a stopwatch every time the ball is dead. Players can then take as long as they want to either walk off, or go and take a throw in or corner, knowing full well that the clock has stopped and will only restart when play becomes active.

I think by what you're saying, stop/start the game for a 90 minutes actual playing time, then we'd all be in the stadium, from first whistle to the last, for about three hours.

Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:19:20
Andy Crooks

That cracked me up. I used to love Shoot! Is it still around?

Jer Kiernan
34 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:29:20
@Rob good point my hope would have been that the timekeeper would erradicate the antics of the players /managers etc and in that way stop some of the messing, but I am probably being nieve in that, I was definitely aware that we were well short of the 90min but 60min of actual play is a surprise!!

I am hoping the new era in football and especially VAR is a great opportunity to clean up the sport and make it more about sport I suppose. My big thing on VAR is how it treats the "divers" I would hope the intent although is subjective might curb the industry of wining pens by putting the defenders arms around your own neck before you dive, or leaving the leg hangin etc etc

I am wondering with the Free kick rule freeing up attacking players will we see more "plays" as in American football, 2 or 3 pass choreographed move to get to the goal etc "one from the training ground"

Yes after watching the City Spurs CL I realized the game has changed and no turning back, question will be is it for the better ??

Kieran Kinsella
35 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:47:54

I remember on one of the US stations for whatever reason they used to show time actually played and it was amazing. Sometimes it was on 45 minutes or so. I hate to say it but rugby is still a man’s game where you don’t stop play if someone’s untied shoe lace brushes past your ankle. I would be actual time played was much greater in the 1970s than now.

Kieran Kinsella
36 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:51:42

On your last point yeah it would. The first time I saw an NFL game I was thinking “OK 60 minutes with three short breaks, I should be out of here in 90 minutes.” Three hours later I left and actually heard the final whistle on the radio on the drive home.

Kieran Kinsella
37 Posted 22/05/2019 at 13:52:03

On your last point yeah it would. The first time I saw an NFL game I was thinking “OK 60 minutes with three short breaks, I should be out of here in 90 minutes.” Three hours later I left and actually heard the final whistle on the radio on the drive home.

Justin Doone
38 Posted 23/05/2019 at 18:06:36
They need clearer rules. Accidental should simply be removed. If it strikes any part..

Need to clear up if means ALL incidents will be VAR reviewed or just if a goal or free kick awarded etc.

Like the no attacking players within 1 metre of the wall but how are they going to judge it on a consistent basis. A lot more sprey cans will be needed!

Also players seen removing the sprey should be booked.

In general I like it but a few clearer guidelines and consistency is needed. VAR can be helpfulness but that can still be inconsistent!

Si Cooper
39 Posted 23/05/2019 at 19:09:18
Don’t like the rule banning attackers from joining a defensive wall. A player should be able to stand anywhere they fancy as long as they are not actively impeding an opponent. This does just seem to have been introduced to simplify things for the ref.
Dick Fearon
40 Posted 24/05/2019 at 23:06:24
A few changes I would have liked:

1. An attacker deliberately handling the ball in the penalty area should be treated like a defender in the same situ ie; Red Card send off.

2. A player requiring treatment on the pitch should be forced to wait 5 minutes before being allowed to return to the action. This would put an end to time wasting pretend injuries.

Steve Carse
41 Posted 24/05/2019 at 23:42:26
Dick (40), and what if the player genuinely needed treatment and, even worse, had received the injury from a deliberate bad tackle? Rather than putting an end to pretend injuries, your suggestion would encourage more dangerous play.
Dick Fearon
42 Posted 25/05/2019 at 11:00:31
Steve @41. A referee's first responsibility is the safety of players. A player who, for a genuine reason, required medical attention would best have a few minutes for recovery under observation before re-entering the fray.

The game gets a bad name when a player who gave every indication of being a serious hospital case can suddenly leap into action.

As for my suggestion causing an increase in injuries, I believe we would see less of them.

Anton Walsh
43 Posted 29/05/2019 at 23:17:45
If VAR would have been in last season, the RS would have been relegated. With offside goals and dubious penalties scrapped. Then players suspensions for diving. Sometimes 12 players on the pitch and one even dressed in black. And lastly, Klopp's teeth flashing in Pickford's eyes for the 115-minute winner at Anfield.

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