PL referees

With the 2019/20 Premier League season kicking off on Friday, we take a look at the new rules that have been introduced.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) – Premier League clubs voted to introduce VAR from the start of 2019/20 last November with goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity taken on by the technology.

Each referee will be supported by a team of VAR assistants at Stockley Park, the Premier League match officials’ base, who will advise them on those situations, but they will also be able to review decisions through a television screen on the touchline.

Referees will also be able to make players return to the pitch even if they have already blown the half-time or full-time whistle, if they use the VAR review monitor to overturn a decision made before the half had ended.

To aid communication within stadiums, graphics will also be displayed to explain when a decision is being reviewed – and as appropriate and where possible, the Premier League has announced video clips will be shown on screens to explain the reasons behind a decision being made too.

Handball – If a player deliberately touches the ball they are penalised, but a foul will also be given if they create a chance or score a goal from an accidental handball. Any incident where a player’s arms have been raised above shoulder-height is also likely to be given, or if they have made their body ‘unnaturally’ bigger.

However, if the ball hits a player’s hand or arm from close-range, their arm is close to the body or used to support their body while falling will usually not be punished.

Substitutions – Players must leave the pitch by the nearest point on the touchline unless the referee allows them to leave on the half-way line for safety or injury reasons.

Goal kicks – The ball is in play from the moment it is kicked and moves. Opposition players still in the area because they have not had time to leave are permitted, and can intercept the goal kick.

Yellows and reds – If the attacking team wishes and the referee has not started to issue the card, they can take a quick free-kick at this point so long as it creates a goalscoring opportunity. The referee will then issue the card when the ball next goes out of play.

However, if the referee was about to send off the player who has given away the foul for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, they will only receive a yellow card if the attacking team takes the quick free-kick.

Dropped balls – If a dropped ball is given inside either penalty area, it is dropped for the defending team’s goalkeeper when play restarts.

For dropped balls outside the penalty area, the ball is dropped for a player on whichever team last touched the ball. All other players must remain at least 4.5 yards away from the ball until play restarts.

Match ball: For the 2019/20 campaign, the Premier League will be using the new Nike Merlin 2019. Marking 20 years of partnership, the ball is the first that is solely produced for the Premier League, facilitating the league’s trademark fast pace.

It also features a bold pink and black design, which Nike says ‘is inspired by the dynamism of the league and its vibrant fan culture’.