With a new Premier League season upon us, how will fans, players and managers react to a plethora of adaptations in the rule book? Here are five key changes for this campaign.
VAR or no VAR?
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been excluded for this Premier League season, amid ongoing controversy over its usage.
The system was used at the World Cup in Russia and led to multiple penalty decisions being contested by players and fans alike. The time taken to make each decision also caused angst and confusion.
However, VAR will be applied for FA Cup and Carabao Cup games in Premier League stadiums. This is a further attempt to gradually implement a more polished equivalent of the system into the Premier League at some stage.
This will increase the amount of games with the inclusion of VAR to 60 for 2018/19 – up from 19 games for the 2017/18 season.
Despite the restriction of VAR arguably being a step back in the short term for the Premier League, another rule has been given the go ahead.
Managers and members of their coaching staff will now be allowed to carry out live analysis and tactical alterations via a tablet in the technical area.
This rule will allow coaches to inform substitutes of their role via a screen, instead of solely verbally or a few notes scribbled on a note pad.
However the new rule does exempt managers from using their tablets as a form of visual evidence to argue a contentious decision.
Factor in the amount of players that have abused the VAR system – gesturing to the referee that he should check the off-pitch screen – and this rule may not be abided by.
In an attempt to reduce foul play, the Premier League has completely reshuffled its suspension system. This decision means that players will now have cut-off points to reach a punishable number of cautions.
A player will receive a one-game ban if they accumulate five yellow cards in the first 19 games. The cut-off point then extends to 32 games for 10 yellow cards and 15 yellow cards for the whole season.
A slight change for this season is that if a player is cautioned in a particular competition, their suspension will be specific to that competition only. In previous years, suspensions have carried over to all domestic competitions, whether the caution occurred in the league or a cup.
Notwithstanding this rule will apply across all competitions for red cards – although bans can now be extended or reduced in more exceptional cases.
Whilst the Premier League has focused on managing behaviour on the pitch, they have not forgotten about any misdemeanours on the touchline.
The top tier of English football will not be resorting to yellow and red cards for managers – as will be practised in the English Football League – but will be stamping down on any misconduct with verbal cautions and match bans.
For the new season, managers will receive a one-match ban if they receive four warnings from the referee and a two match ban if a manager picks up eight warnings. A three match ban will be handed out if the referee produces 12 warnings and 16 wags of the finger will result in an FA misconduct ban.
The EFL rules display a sense of clarity with specific acts being labelled as a yellow or red card offence. Managers will receive yellow cards for kicking a water bottle or attempting to undermine an official, whereas a red card would be handed out for spitting or any violent conduct.
Although the Premier League's warning system is a positive attempt to eradicate foul play, controversy looms, as many warnings given may be deemed subjective, as there will be no official ruling as to what act deserves further punishment.
Traditional format returns
The Carabao Cup will no longer have extra-time, as matches level after 90 minutes will now go straight to a penalty shoot-out.
The EFL, who organise the League Cup, have also decided to revert to the original penalty format- alternating penalty kicks- after trying the ABBA format for the 2017/18 season.
The format, trialled last year, caused confusion amongst players resulting in an often disjointed process.
Although the League Cup is often seen as an opportunity to give youth a chance to get some valuable minutes on the pitch, the majority of first team players will feature in the competition- especially in the latter stages.
The exclusion of extra-time will help reduce game time for players in what is a physically demanding season, particularly for top six clubs who also have commitments in European competitions.