Daily Briefing

Extra subs, offside and underpants: New laws for the football season

There have been 95 alterations to the laws of football in the last 18 months – here's what fans should look out for this season

It's not just new managers and players who will be introduced to the Premier League when the 2016-17 season kicks off a fortnight on Saturday, a host of new laws will also come into play this season.

This week it was announced that an extra fourth substitute would be available during extra time of FA Cup ties from the quarter final onwards.

"The additional substitute scheme is the latest planned change to the FA Cup, the world's oldest senior knockout football competition, after officials decided to banish replays from the last eight onwards in a bid to reduce fixture congestion," says website Supersport.

The experiment was also tried at the Copa America, although neither Argentina or Chile used a fourth sub in the final.

And the use of an extra sub is by no means the only change that fans will see this season. The International Football Association Board (Ifab) has spent the last 18 months tinkering with the laws with the aim of making them "more accessible and more easily understood by everyone in football, and increase consistency of understanding, interpretation and application".

The upshot is a total of 95 alterations with Sky Sports running through some of the main changes that fans will see from August 13.


Trialled at Euro 2016, this law change stipulates that the ball no longer has to go forward at kick-off but can move in any direction, as long as it "clearly moves".

An end to triple-punishment law

Previously the "triple-punishment" law saw a player who prevented a goal-scoring chance in the penalty area automatically red-carded and suspended, as well as conceding the penalty. The tweak to the law means that now: "When a denial of a goalscoring opportunity offence is committed by a defender in the penalty area, the penalty kick effectively restores the goalscoring opportunity so the punishment for the player should be less strong (eg a yellow card) than when the offence is committed outside the penalty area. However, when the offence is handball or clearly not a genuine attempt to play or challenge for the ball, the player will be sent off."


A yellow card will be awarded to a penalty taker who "illegally feints" once his run-up is complete. In other words slowing to stop immediately before shooting is outlawed although the amendment emphasises that feinting during the run-up is still permitted.


The new law states that "the halfway line is neutral", so that a player must have part of the body ("excluding arms or hands") in the opponents' half to be considered offside. Additionally, a free-kick awarded for an offside must now "always take place where the offence is committed."


"Preventing an opponent gaining possession" has been deleted from the list of bookable offences for a handball and it is now a yellow card offence when "it stops/interferes with a promising attack".


In order to promote "the spirit of the game" the phrase "clearly moves" has been appended to the law on restarts so that attempts to trick the opposition by lightly tapping the ball at a set-piece and then dribbling will be forbidden.

Player behaviour

At the request of the the Premier League, English Football League and FA referees have been instructed to clamp down on "intolerable behaviour" by players by issuing yellow cards. This includes arguing face-to-face with officials, running to contest decisions and being "visibly disrespectful". Red cards will be shown to players who use insulting and/or offensive language or gestures towards officials.

Infringements by substitutes/team officials

With an increase in the number of incidents of substitutes and coaching staff purposely interfering on the field of play, the law has been amended to so if play is held up because of such behaviour from the sideline the referee will now award a free-kick or penalty kick to the opposition instead of an indirect free-kick or drop ball.


With base layers all the rage these days, there are now strict rules governing their colour. Undershorts and tights must be the same colour as the lowest part of the shorts, and undershirts must be the same colour as the sleeves of the kit.

The 95 alterations in full can be viewed at the Fifa website.


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