As well as new players, kits, balls and teams to face, the Premier League season will include a host of new innovations and tweaks to games, that will make an impact right from the first kick of the ball.
Here we have rounded up everything you need to look out for across this opening week, and beyond:
More additional time
The biggest change this season is due to be the length of stoppage time added on. As we’ve seen in both the men’s and women’s World Cups, match officials are undertaking a more accurate calculation of additional time, to help improve ball-in-play time.
Therefore, the exact time lost when certain match events occur will now be added, as opposed to the previous policy of 30 seconds being added for particular game incidents.
- Goals and subsequent celebrations
- Injuries and treatment time (if required)
- Penalties (from moment of offence to the whistle for the penalty kick)
- Red cards (from moment of offence to when the player leaves the field)
We saw this applied in the Community Shield, which allowed Leandro Trossard to score in the 101st minute of normal time to equalise against Manchester City.
To help supporters, stadium clocks no longer be stopped at the 90-minute mark and instead run until the completion of each half.
Less time wasting
To help ball-in-play time, referees will also be taking a tougher line on players delaying the match from restarting or time-wasting, including taking too long to take a free kick, goal kick or corner. These will all be punishable by a yellow card.
To discourage players from feigning injury, officials have been told to be stricter in making players leave the field for treatment, which will work as a deterrent if they are not really injured. Treatment will only be allowed on the pitch for players who have suffered an injury from a challenge that warranted a yellow or red card, a collision with a teammate or if it is a goalkeeper or penalty taker who has suffered the injury.
Expect to see more yellow cards in the early weeks of the campaign as officials attempt to get to grips with dissent from players and officials. Players who surround an official, run towards them to confront them or use physical contact will receive a booking with red cards dished out for offensive language or gestures or aggression.
This has already been implemented in the EFL’s opening weekend, and saw twice as many yellow cards issued compared with the final day of the last campaign.
Managers will also be cautioned for leaving their technical area, which includes goal celebrations, or challenging match officials during the game or at half-time and full-time. Only the manager is allowed to patrol his technical area too, with other coaches not permitted to stand alongside their boss during the game.
Other rule tweaks
There has been a slight change when it comes to the denial of a goalscoring opportunity that leads to a penalty, with defenders now only receiving a yellow card if they make an attempt to challenge for the ball, but still commit a foul. This will see fewer red cards, although holding, pulling, pushing and fouls where there was no possibility to play the ball will still result in a sending-off.
Another change to the offside law now means if a defender is considered to be in control of the ball, attempts to gain possession or clears, this would be a ‘deliberate play’. Should the ball then fall to an attacker in an offside position, they will not be penalised, regardless of if the defender's action is inaccurate. However, should the ball merely deflect off a defender and land to an offside attacker, offside should be called.
Fifth Champions League place
For the first time, the 2023/24 season could have five Premier League teams qualifying for the UEFA Champions League through their league positions. A new format for Europe’s premier club competition will see it expanded to 36 teams for 2024/25, which allows for an additional place for the two countries whose clubs collectively performed the best in UEFA competitions the season before.
In five of the past six campaigns – and seven of the past 11 – the Premier League would have merited this extra spot, but it will only be towards the end of the season when we’ll know for sure if the team finishing fifth in the Premier League reaches the Champions League.
Three new officials will operate in this season's Premier League. Referees Tim Robinson and Darren Bond have been joined by assistant referee Akil Howson.
Meanwhile, long-serving official Andre Marriner has retired, with his last game coming back in May when he took charge of our game against Wolves.
A fourth redesign in Premier League history will see a new font on the back of players’ shirts, helping to increase the number height and improve visibility.
In addition to the name and number change, the league’s sleeve badge has been redesigned for the upcoming season to a standalone iconic Premier League lion.
Mid-season player break
For the first time since the 2019/20 season, 10 fixtures will be played across two weeks in January to combat the congested fixture calendar and to improve player welfare.
This will affect our home game against Crystal Palace, which is currently scheduled for Saturday, January 13 but could be one of the five games moved to January 20-21.
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