The new offside rule is 'so ambiguous it's frightening'

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Managers are criticising new changes to the offside rule, which could see unclear reasoning behind disallowing goals.

The alteration is just one of a few changes officials have made to the laws of the game ahead of the new Premier League season, which kicks off on Saturday. 

Changes will impact manager conduct on the touchline, players surrounding officials, feigning injures, and offsides.


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The reshaping of the offside rule has seemed the most controversial of the bunch. 

So what's new?

The new rules state that players in an offside position will be penalised if they: Clearly attempt to play a ball which is close to them when this action impacts on an opponent or; make an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.

This means goals such Juan Mata's winner against Stoke last season wouldn't have counted. Although Rojo was offside when the ball was played, he didn't touch the ball, which meant the goal stood. Under the new rules, because Rojo attempted to play the ball, the goal would be disallowed. 

The Premier League website has produced videos explaining how the rule is being implemented. 

Ambiguous and frightening

Managers have now come out to criticise the offside change, claiming that it leaves too much to interpretation.  West Brom boss Tony Pulis is overtly irritated by the decision. 

"It is not a rule." He told BBC Radio 5 Live. "A rule is black and white. Offside is not. It is going to be left to the referee's discretion."

Pulis added that the change will "muddy the waters even more" and that "It is so ambiguous it is frightening." 

Easier in practice

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher says although the new rule seems confusing, it will be easier to see the benefit when seen in action. 

"I actually think it will simplify it." He said. "When you see the season unfold on Saturday, you’ll think that it’s one thing on paper and another in practice."

Injury time

Rule modifications were also made in other areas, such as players faking injuries to encourage a sending off.

Now, if a player is found to be lying about being hit in the face for example, they could face a three-match suspension. Referees could even rescind their decision to send a player off after reviewing the incident. 

This change will hopefully weed out what is currently a big problem, not just in the Premier League, but in world football overall. 

However, again, this is another rule that could be left for interpretation by the referee. 

Touchy on the touchline

Another change is that a written code of conduct has been introduced over what actions are regarded as inappropriate for club staff whilst in the technical area.

For example, if a manager was to wave an imaginary yellow card or kick a bottle of water, a first offence would mean a warning, but a second would warrant removal to the stands.

Some offences could be deemed disrespectful enough for someone to be immediately removed to the stands without warning. 


Finally, less players will be allowed to confront the referee about a decision.

The former rule was that if three or more players surrounded the referee, the club could face a charge. That rule has now been reduced to two or more players.

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