The changes to the rules by IFAB which will impact Burnley

IFAB have made minor changes to the laws of the game
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When Burnley return to action later this month there could be some minor alterations to the laws of the game.

IFAB have published the laws document for the 2020/21 season. However, they came into effect from June 1, so could well be implemented when the Premiership and Championship resume the 2019/20 campaign.

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It is up to the league body or association to determine when they will be implemented. They will definitely be in place for next season.

There will be some slight alterations to the laws of the game. Picture: GettyThere will be some slight alterations to the laws of the game. Picture: Getty
There will be some slight alterations to the laws of the game. Picture: Getty

Last year saw the International Football Association Board announce some substantial changes, which included the handball rule, goal kicks, substitutions and kick-off.

IFAB noted in the the Laws of the Game 2020/21 publication:

The Law changes for 2019/20 have directly and positively affected the way the game is played and its image, e.g.:

There is more constructive play at goal kicks as the ball no longer has to leave the penalty area before it can be played; Attacking players not being allowed into the defensive ‘wall’ has removed the disruption and conflict, which also delayed the kick being taken; The new dropped ball procedure has speeded up this restart and removed the unfairness which used to occur.

IMAGE 1: IFAB show where on the arm constitutes a handball. Picture: IFAB/ScreenshotIMAGE 1: IFAB show where on the arm constitutes a handball. Picture: IFAB/Screenshot
IMAGE 1: IFAB show where on the arm constitutes a handball. Picture: IFAB/Screenshot

Twelve months on and the changes are not nearly as drastic.


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One of the most controversial aspects in football, IFAB have sought to clarify where on the arm constitutes a handball and what is deserving of a handball offence.

Firstly, as we see in DIAGRAM 1, anything below the armpit is a handball.

Secondly, if an attacking player accidentally touches the ball with their hand/arm and it leads to the ball going to a team-mate who immediately scores, it is deemed a handball.

However, if a player accidentally touches the ball with their hand/arm and it travels “some distance” (via a pass/dribble) or there are several passes before a goal or goal-scoring opportunity, it is not deemed to be handball.

Yellow card offences

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Players can now be shown a yellow card for “failing to respect the required distance” when play is restarted with a dropped ball, the same as with a throw-in, corner or free-kick.

Goalkeepers can now be shown a yellow or red card if they have deliberately played the ball a second time after a restart, such as a goal kick or free kick, before it has touched another player.

If they stop a promising attack or deny a goal-scoring opportunity while doing it they will be cautioned or sent off.


When a referee plays advantage following denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, the red card becomes a yellow card. Likewise, if the referee plays advantage for an offence which interfered with or stopped a promising attack, the yellow card is not shown.


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An amendment has been made to the offside law regarding a player receiving the ball in an offside position following a deliberate action from an opponent.

Previously, a player in the offside position is not deemed to have gained an advantage when receiving a pass or header from an opponent. The law now includes deliberate handball.

“As ‘legal’ deliberate play (e.g. a kick or header) causes a player in an offside position to no longer be offside, ‘illegal’ play should have the same outcome,” IFAB note.

A ‘deliberate save’ landing at the feet of a player in an offside position will see the player flagged as offside.

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IFAB write: “A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).

Penalty kick

If a goalkeeper commits an offence during a penalty kick and the kick is missed (not saved – ie goes wide or hits the woodwork) it won’t have to be retaken.

The penalty would only be retaken if the goalkeeper’s action “had a clear impact on the kicker”.

If the penalty is saved by the goalkeeper they are warned and it is retaken.

Penalty shoot-out

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Any yellow cards or warnings in normal time or extra-time are not carried over into the shootout. However, players who have been sent off during the match are still unable to participate in the shootout.

With regards to the yellow cards or warnings received prior to the shootout, the IFAB explain that the penalty kicks are “not part of the match”.

When the penalty shootout is underway, goalkeepers no longer receive a booking for their first offence. Instead they are issued with a warning then yellow card for any subsequent offences. This alteration is because “most goalkeeper encroachment results from mis-anticipating when the ball will be kicked”.

In the unusual instance when both the goalkeeper and person taking the penalty commit an offence at the same time, “the the kick is recorded as missed and the kicker cautioned”.

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IFAB explain: “When (rarely) the goalkeeper and the kicker offend at exactly the same time, the kicker should be penalised, as it is the ‘illegal’ feinting that causes the goalkeeper’s encroachment.”


The laws of the game now state that it is appropriate for an ‘on-field review’ for all subjective decisions, such as intensity of a foul and offside interference.

For factual decisions – offside, location, ball out of play – it is advised that in some cases an ‘on-field review’ is appropriate if it will help manage players/managers/the match or ‘sell’ the decision.

In addition, only one ‘TV signal’ is needed for a ‘VAR-only review’ (unless a signal is also required after stopping play).

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