Photo Premier League
Photo Premier League

The Premier League has made new amendments in their rules concerning Video Assistant Referee (VAR), offside decisions, substitutions, handball in the box and penalty decisions. Over the years as football gets modernized, new rules and changes have been brought in which have received mixed reactions so far, with most of the decisions being criticized by the fans. Since the introduction of VAR, many decisions made have been costly such as the situation to awarding penalties, the slightest details regarding offside decisions, handball in the penalty box and now rules relating to substitutions.

The new season commences from August 14 onwards with Arsenal facing newly-promoted Brentford in the first clash of the season, followed by Manchester United facing Leeds United. As the clubs get familiar with new staff and players this season, all the members will also have to familiarize themselves with the new Premier League rules which have been introduced.

Thicker lines

Photo The Athletic
Photo The Athletic

Premier League VARs are set to use 'thicker lines' in games this season to determine marginal decisions.

An agreement to use thicker lines followed a presentation by Professional Game Match Officials Limited [PGMOL] referees' chief Mike Riley to clubs at their annual general meeting in June.

The PGMOL hopes the change will give the benefit back to the attacking team after Premier League clubs gave feedback in a VAR survey last season.

The International Football Association Board [IFAB] - football's lawmakers - does not specify a maximum thickness of lines, under the laws of the game.

So, what does this mean, and how does it help?

It is as yet unclear exactly how thick the lines will be made

This should rule out instances where a player's toe has led to a goal being ruled out, cases which many fans, players and pundits felt were ruining the game.

How will this affect players?

Thicker lines means there is a larger margin of error for offside positions.

Several decisions during last year’s Premier League campaign, such as those involving Daniel Podence and Diogo Jota, ruled a player offside because their toe or arm was in front of the defender but with thicker lines this will no longer be penalised.

How did VAR judge offsides last season?

The VAR used a high definition screen and zoomed into a still image.

When the VAR drew the vertical line, also known as the 3D line, the line used is one pixel thick, a very fine measurement which will be made thicker next season.

When the VAR clicks confirm a red or green line appears, depending on whether the player is offside or onside.

What other changes will there be?

The final outcome of the decision will be shown but the process of drawing the offside lines will no longer be seen by broadcasters and TV viewers.

Are there any new proposals regarding how to judge offsides?

Clubs have been told it will be at least two years before automated offside technology can be used in the Premier League, hence the change to use thicker lines.

Arsene Wenger has also said FIFA could introduce an automated system to judge offsides for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Wenger, who is now FIFA’s chief of global football development, wants a fully automated system introduced which would notify the assistant referee when a player is offside.

The system uses automated ball detection, limb-tracking and further algorithms, along with help from artificial intelligence, to produce a three-dimensional model of a player’s position to make a decision.

FIFA trialled semi-automated offside technology at the Club World Cup in 2019 in Qatar.

Handball language changing

Photo SkySports
Photo SkySports

There is now new language around the handball rule

Accidental handball in the build-up to a goal will no longer be deemed an offence. The crucial word here is 'build-up'.

It will still be an offence if an accidental handball directly creates the chance that scores the goal, or scores the goal itself.

There is also new language around how a player makes their body 'unnaturally bigger' in a handball situation.

The new language is: "A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player's body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised."

What this means is the handball law no longer specifies that a particular position, or anything other than a standard silhouette of a body, are considered 'unnatural'.

Sounds more confusing, right? Although grey areas will undoubtedly still exist, what this should achieve is more subjectivity from the referees on what is deemed 'the player's body movement for that specific situation' and less on pedantic, one-size-fits-all body positions.

Offside clarification

FIFA has now confirmed that the bottom of a player's armpit is to be taken as the part of the body where offside decisions will be measured from - and, as you would expect, this extends to the Premier League.

EFL scrapping five subs

Photo Premier League
Photo Premier League

The final rule regarding substitutions still requires confirmation from the Premier League on whether teams will be permitted 18 or 20-man matchday squads after amending the rule midway through last season due to the pandemic. However, they have scrapped the five substitution rule and clubs will only be allowed three subs, with just one additional concussion substitution if necessary.

The rule, allowing clubs to make five changes per game as opposed to the usual three, was brought in upon football's restart in June 2020 following the Covid-enforced break.

So Championship, League One and League Two teams can name seven substitutes but will only be able use a maximum of three.

Concussion changes will be granted if required, and the Premier League's concussion substitution rules will also remain.

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