New Premier League rule changes are set to dominate the debate in the early part of the new domestic season in England, with players, teams and fans all affected.

It comes after instruction from the game’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), to clamp down on player and manager behaviour, including time-wasting and dissent.

The Community Shield between Manchester City and Arsenal was an early indication of things to come this season, with Mikel Arteta’s team scoring a 101st-minute equaliser at Wembley. This swiftly prompted many to condemn the directives to add exact time lost to celebrations, substitutions, injuries, penalties and red cards, with fears of injury and a harm to mental health as a result.

But games regularly surpassing the 100-minute mark is not the only change to look at for this season.

What are the main rule changes for the new Premier League season?

Timekeeping and clamping down on time-wasting

Referees in the Premier League and the EFL, in line with every other competition around the world, have been instructed by the game’s lawmakers to more accurately calculate time lost to stoppages this season - including goal celebrations, substitutions and Var checks.

The idea is to clamp down on time-wasting and increase effective playing time. The game’s world governing body FIFA found that while added time was up in Qatar for the World Cup compared to the 2018 finals in Russia, effective playing time increased from 55 minutes and 41 seconds in Russia to 59 minutes and 47 seconds in Qatar.

Supporters of the new regulations point out Premier League average times were already at 98 minutes last season. It is predicted that it will be rare for top-flight matches to last less than 100 minutes.

In an additional attempt to better allow the game to flow and reduce stoppages, a higher threshold will be applied to “contact” between players. In theory this should mean fewer free-kicks awarded.

Meanwhile, goalkeepers - or any player - seen to be deploying early time-wasting tactics will be shown a yellow card, with referees ordered to act earlier, rather than wait until later in the game before showing a card.

Dissent and abuse

Players and coaches can expect to see a tougher and more consistent approach from officials towards dissent and abuse, as part of a wider effort to improve conduct across the board in the English game.

Referees have been instructed to show at least one yellow card where two or more players confront them. It comes after the Football Association issued more than 20 fines, totally more than £1m, to Premier League clubs last campaign for surrounding match officials and mass confrontations.

Players and coaches in the professional game who repeatedly or seriously abuse officials can expect to face tougher financial sanctions from the Football Association. In the grassroots game, such actions will lead to points deductions this season.

Technical area behaviour

Poor behaviour in the technical area will be punished with tougher sanctions. According to the rules, “players and team officials not listed on the team sheet must not enter the technical area” while if there is ever more than one coach in the technical area, an automatic yellow card will be issued. Managers who leave their technical area will also be hit with harsher penalties.

Any club official sent off during a match must now be out-of-sight of the pitch, bringing an end to them be allowed to watch the game from the stands.

Denying a scoring opportunity

From this season, only fouls in the penalty box on a player through on goal deemed intentional will be punished with a red card. If it is deemed that a genuine attempt is being made to play the ball, then the punishment will only be a yellow card.


Implemented last season but now officially written into the rules to improve clarity for referees and Var, the new offside rule states that: “a player who is clearly offside should not become onside on every occasion when an opponent moves and touches the ball.” Essentially, it is no longer a guarantee that a player will be judged onside if the ball touched an opponent before them.

What are they saying?


In the aftermath of the Community Shield match, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne said that extended matches illustrated a lack of care over player welfare.

“Assuming we’re going to play about 15 minutes extra every game now, that says it all,” he said. “We spoke to the Arsenal players and even the referees. They don’t even want to do it, but it’s the new rule.”

Writing on social media, Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane said: “From the managers and players, we have shared our concerns for many years now that there are too many games, the schedule is overcrowded, and it’s at a dangerous level for players’ physical and mental well-being.

The Professional Footballers’ Association union (PFA) has also voiced its concerns over the matter, with Maheta Molango, chief executive, warning football is “sleepwalking into a disaster” amid an escalating player welfare row.


The Football Supporters’ Association are monitoring the situation and will speak to its members about their matchday experiences, with the new directives giving the potential for transport issues arising with match delays.

Keith Hackett, former Premier League referee, wrote for Telegraph Sport: “As always, it is the fans I feel sorry for. Because of a history of players diving, feigning injury and wasting time, we’re now in a position whereby those using public transport to get home from matches could miss their last train.

“Sadly the fans are usually the last to be considered when discussing proposed improvements to the game.”

What do you think of the latest football rule changes? Let us know in the comments section below