A NEW season begins this week and for the players and supporters, there are several new law changes that they need to be aware of.
Here Pat Kelly, former referee explains what they are.
The changes will be welcomed by referees as they will help control difficult situations such as free kicks near the penalty areas, quicker substitute introductions, new goal-kick procedures, and red and yellow cards for coaches and team officials.
The IFAB introduced significant changes to the laws of the game at their meeting in March.
These changes came into force on June 1, and were introduced at the Women’s World Cup in France, Men’s U20 World Cup in Poland, Copa America, CONCACAF Gold Cup and African Nations Cup.
“The new championship season together with all of the other English Leagues introduced the changes last weekend as did the Scottish Leagues and all World Leagues which commenced after June 1, including the new Premier League season which kicked off on Friday where the new changes were also implemented,” said the vastly experienced Cork official.
The introduction of VAR applies to the Premier League also which will no doubt have mixed reactions.
“People need to be patient as this is a significant change which hopefully will clarify controversial incidents and help the match officials make the correct decisions,” argues Kelly.
“If I could offer an opinion, I would introduce a 10-minute sin bin for players who misbehave which puts the onus on the player rather than the referee from his coach. The handball [deliberate or not] will always cause controversy but the significant changes here will hopefully bring some clarity.”
The Airtricity League will not implement the changes until the beginning of the 2020 season as they had started their season prior to the changes being made.
All local leagues will introduce the changes in the upcoming season which begins in mid-August.
“In my opinion, these changes will help to speed up the game and make it more enjoyable for spectators,” says Kelly.
“The important thing is that players and coaches, particularly at local level and the wider audience ie; TV commentators, spectators are made aware of the changes through their respective leagues and through the various media outlets,” he says.
Kelly said all the main changes are being implemented to improve the game for everyone.
“Three changes were approved following two years of worldwide experiments: The introduction of yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials, a player being substituted leaving the field at the nearest point on the boundary line and at a goal kick and a free kick for the defending team in their own penalty area, the ball is in play as soon the kick is taken. That means it can be played before it leaves the penalty area.”
A team official guilty of misconduct will be shown a YC (caution) or RC (sending off).
“If the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach who is in the technical area at the time will receive the YC/RC.
The reason for this change is that the experiment with YC/RC for misconduct by team officials has been successful and has revealed many benefits at all levels, including for young referees dealing with ‘difficult’ adult coaches.
“If the offender cannot be identified, the senior team official (usually the main coach) in the technical area will receive the YC/RC (as the person responsible for the other team officials).”
With regards to the substitutes law change, a player who is being substituted must leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline/goal-line. That is unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly/ immediately at the halfway line or a different point because of safety, injury and so on.
“The reason for this change is to stop a player who is being substituted ‘wasting’ time by leaving slowly at the halfway line [which is not a law requirement] the player must leave at the nearest point (as with an injury) unless the referee indicates otherwise.
“In other words, if the player can leave quickly at the halfway line, there is a safety/security issue or the player leaves on a stretcher.
“The player must go immediately to the technical area or dressing room to avoid problems with substitutes, spectators, or the match officials.
“A player who infringes the spirit of this law should be sanctioned for unsporting behaviour, like delaying the restart of play.
“A small yet important change relates to goal kicks.
“The ball is in play once the kick is taken; it can be played before leaving the penalty area.
“The reason for this change is that at a goal kick the ball is in play once it is kicked, and does not have to leave the penalty area, has created a faster and more dynamic/constructive restart to the game.
“It has reduced the time ‘lost/wasted’ including stopping the tactic of ‘wasting’ time when a defender deliberately plays the ball before it leaves the penalty area knowing that all that will happen is the goal kick will be retaken.
“Opponents must remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.”