Premier League referee Graham Scott sits down with Mark Edwards to explain the new regulations for the 2019/20 season.

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Pic. PA Wire

Graham Scott in action during a Premier League game Picture: PA Wire


The big change here is that the law has been rewritten to make clear that a player who is being taken off must now leave the pitch by the nearest touchline or goalline.

Referees do have discretion, however, if they consider that a player may be at risk by asking him to leave at a certain line.

Examples of this could be making them walk in front of the visiting supporters, or if a player is injured and being stretchered off, a referee would most likely allow them to be taken straight towards the tunnel, where the medical room is usually found, rather than having to be carried around the pitch.

This is one of many examples of trying to speed up the game, which the introduction of most of these new laws are trying to achieve.

This was always a particularly difficult law to police from a referee’s point of view in the past. Often a player would move to the furthest point of the pitch before they come off in order to waste time.

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Pics. Getty

A referee could only encourage the player to leave quickly, but if they turned round and said they were injured and could not move quicker, we cannot doubt them. Now we have the authority to make them leave by the nearest line.

Usually it doesn’t matter, but now, if a team gains a significant advantage from it, then we would stop the game and have a drop ball.


This is one of the laws which has been in place for a very long time but nobody is really sure why.

But from this season, a goal kick can now be played to a teammate who is inside the penalty area – they do not have to be outside as before.

However, the opposition must still be outside the area until the kick has been taken, but as soon as the ball is active, they can come in.

The only exception to this rule is when a team tries to restart play quickly and the opposition have not been given a chance to clear the area before the ball is back in play.

If in the area the opposition cannot prevent or interfere with the kick being taken, but may challenge for or touch the ball when it is active.

The two main benefits here are that it firstly allows a team to restart as soon as possible by playing the ball short. But it also prevents a team from trying to play out quickly but suddenly realising they could be under pressure and stepping inside the area before the ball has left it, so that play has to be stopped.


The big change here is that when a team has three or more players in a wall from a free-kick, the attacking team can no longer put their own players in it.

The attacking team would do this for various reasons, but often just to be a nuisance. As a referee, this was a situation that we had to manage and it was often, quite frankly, a pain.

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The law, where other players must be at least a metre from the wall, will now make the job of a referee easier in terms of managing the situation.

The other change to the free-kick law is that the referee will now have the licence to allow a team to take a quick free-kick if there is a goalscoring opportunity and then come back and caution a player.

In the past, if somebody was going to be cautioned, you had to do that before the free-kick was taken. Now it gives the referee a bit more flexibility – although this will only really come into play with a shooting/goalscoring chance, it would not happen in the centre of the pitch.


They are really just trying to define what we in England have been asked to implement for a few seasons now.

The key is that the arms of players should be where you would expect them to be.

The most unnatural position for a player to have his hands is behind his back, we do not want players thinking they have to do that in order to avoid a handball.

But if an arm is above shoulder height – an unnatural position – it will almost certainly lead to a handball being awarded.

This is also the case if a defender tries to make himself bigger with the intention of increasing his chances of blocking the ball with his hand or arm.

The one exception to the rule here is if a team gains a significant advantage – for example a goal – from an accidental handball. In that case, the handball will be penalised.


Again, this is an example of a law catching up with the practice we have been implementing for some time.

It is now in black and white that the goalkeeper must have one of his feet on the goalline when a penalty kick has been taken.

In both the Premier League and English Football League officials will continue to make a judgement about whether the goalkeeper clearly moves both feet off the line before the kick was taken before they are to order a retake.


This was a regulation that was brought in by the Football League last season, but now will also be used in the Premier League.

Usually to be given a red card in the technical area means you have to be guilty of offensive, insulting or abusive language or gesturing.

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It could also be, as we have seen in the past, when a water bottle is kicked or thrown, which if considered violent could be a red card offence.


In my experience many captains did not know that if they won the toss they could only choose which goal to attack.

Now, if they win the toss, they can choose which end to attack, or if they want to kick off.


The change here does away with the contested dropped ball.

Instead, the ball will be given to the team that last played it before the stoppage, however, in the penalty area the ball will always go to the goalkeeper.

It takes away the discussion that often happens as to which team should give it back to the other so it’s just a clearer and cleverer rule.


One other new law to note is when a ball strikes a referee.

There are occasions when a referee might accidentally get in the way of the ball.

Normally this does not matter, but if a team gains a significant advantage, then we would stop the game and have a drop ball.

VAR ‘should help referees enormously’

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THE expectation of referees is that the introduction of VAR will help us enormously.

The worst thing for a referee is if they have made a serious error which has had an impact on the game or result, and not been able to find out about it until afterwards.

Our hope is that a colleague can now help you out and say ‘you have got that decision wrong’, so that it can be corrected.

We do not want to re-referee a game, but we do want to try to get the big decisions right, so that any clear and obvious errors with goals, red cards, penalties and cases of potential mistaken identity of players can be corrected.

One thing people do not all understand is that VAR decides whether to check a decision, not the referee.

Another point to make is that referees in the Premier League are unlikely to come over and look at a screen to make a decision.

We trust each other to give the best advice and we will then follow that advice.