Some law changes to look out for in 2023/24
Eagle-eyed supporters may be able to notice a few minor alterations to the laws of the game, once the 2023/24 season kicks off.
IFAB, the International Football Association Board, have supplied details on a number of changes, and some of them will certainly have a small impact.
For instance, there is a greater allowance for any time lost due to goal celebrations, and this is to be added at the end of the half. While these were always acknowledged if there was a "significant delay to a restart", they are now viewed as a stand-alone consideration to "emphasise that they often result in a significant amount of time being lost".
The rule-makers have been keen to ensure more stoppages in play are accounted for, where timekeeping is concerned.
Another of the changes confirmed by IFAB is a straightforward one, as goalkeepers can no longer act in an unsporting manner when facing a penalty kick. It is stated that the player between the posts "must not behave in a way that unfairly distracts the kicker e.g. delay the taking of the kick or touch the goalposts, crossbar or goal net."
It is stated that the keeper must not behave in a manner "that fails to show respect for the game and the opponent", as had perhaps become a frequent occurrence during high-pressure shootouts, as was witnessed during the World Cup last year.
As reserve assistant referees are now more involved in the game, they are being granted the same assistance to the referee as the other 'on-field' match officials but there are also some more complicated changes to cover.
It has been clarified that players may avoid being cautioned for unsporting behaviour, if they are seen to be attempting to challenge for the ball. The idea is that the same principle should apply for challenging for the ball as attempting to play the ball. Hence, if a penalty is awarded for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity, the culprit is only shown a red card if the offence was committed without the possibility to play the ball.
After some previous incidents in the Premier League, there has also been an attempt to clarify the 'deliberate play' element to the offside rule.
While quite a complicated area, in summary, the clearer explanation regards distinguishing between 'deliberate play' and 'deflection', stressing that a player who is clearly offside should not become onside on every occasion when an opponent moves and touches the ball.
These guidelines were actually added last summer but have now officially been written into the laws and, despite some talk around more drastic offside changes being in the pipeline, these won't be in force in the 2023/24 Premier League.