The Premier League announced on Tuesday that it has tightened some of the problematic loopholes which previously allowed players to “buy a penalty” and resulted in a league-record 125 penalties being awarded during the 2020-21 season.
Mike Riley, Managing Director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited, explained not only how the changes will be implemented, but also the thought process which led the Premier League to making the changes in the first place.
“Referees will look for contact and establish clear contact, then ask themselves the question: does that contact have a consequence? They will then ask themselves a question: has the player used that contact to actually try and win a foul penalty? So it’s not sufficient just to say: ‘Yes, there’s contact.’
“I think that the feedback we’ve had from players, both attackers and defenders, [is that] you want it to be a proper foul that has a consequence, not something that somebody has used slight contact to go over, and we’ve given the penalty to reward it.”
While the above is certainly a welcome change ahead of the 2021-22 Premier League season, here’s the rules tweak that’ll have fans most excited: more razor-thin lines will no longer be used to determine whether or not a player was offside by the thickness of the hair on his arms.
“We’ve now reintroduced the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player. So, in a really close offside situation, we carry on following the same processes that we did last year with VAR.
“We apply the one-pixel lines, placing the attacking line and the defending line. We then put on the thicker broadcast lines and where they overlap, those situations will now be deemed as onside.
“Effectively, what we have given back to the game is 20 goals that were disallowed last season by using quite forensic scrutiny. It’s the toenails, the noses of the players that last season were offside. This season, they will be onside.”
Music to the ears of absolutely everyone.
You can read the entirety of the Premier League’s rules initiatives for the 2021-22 season, here.