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Law Changes Introduced For 2019/20 Campaign

18 June 2019

Heading into the new 2019/20 season, there are a number of law changes for Brighton & Hove Albion fans to look out for, which came into force on 1st June.

There have been a number of subtle amendments to the existing laws of the game, and a brief summary of the key differences have been included below.

Yellow and Red Cards for team officials

For the first time next season, yellow and red cards will be issued for misconduct by team officials.

A team official could be shown a yellow card for a number of offences, which include offences such as: deliberately entering the field of play, delaying the restart of play by their team, or persistent unacceptable behaviour (including repeated warning offences).

Meanwhile, sending off offences include: deliberately throwing/kicking an object onto the field of play, and physical or aggressive behaviour towards an opposing player, substitute, team official, match official, or spectator.

Also, as with players, two cautions will result in a sending off offence.

Goal-kicks and free-kicks for teams in their own penalty area

Goal-kicks and free-kicks for teams in their own penalty area do not have to leave box.

Opponents still have to be outside of the penalty area when the ball is in play.

Hand Ball

A number of changes have been made to the laws surrounding handball, with it being deemed that greater clarity was needed, especially on occasions when ‘non-deliberate’ handball is an offence.

It is an offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball
  • gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:
    • scores in the opponents’ goal
    • creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

It is usually an offence if a player:

  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when:
    • the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger
    • the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

  • directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)
  • directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close
  • if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger
  • when a player falls, and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body

The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player outside the penalty area.

If the goalkeeper handles the ball inside their penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded, but there is no disciplinary sanction.


Where there are three or more defending team players in a wall, all attacking team players must remain at least one metre from the wall until the ball is in play.

The reason behind this change is that attackers standing very close to or in the defensive wall can cause management problems and waste time.

There is also no tactical advantage to standing in the wall, and their presence is not deemed to be in the spirit of the game.


When replacing a player with a substitute, the player must leave by the nearest point on the boundary line unless the referee indicates that the player may leave directly and immediately at the halfway line or another point (e.g. for safety or security).

This is to limit the amount of timewasting taking place by a player slowly leaving the pitch.

Drop Balls

A number of changes have been made to the issue of drop-balls. These are awarded when the referee stops play for any reason not listed for another form of restart, which may be due to something like a serious injury to a player.

Some amendments to these laws will come into play as of next season, which includes the ball being dropped for the defender team goalkeeper in their penalty area, if play was stopped when:

  • The ball was in the penalty area or
  • The last touch of the ball was in the penalty area

In any other instance, the referee will drop the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player.

All other players (of both teams) must remain at least four metres from the ball until it is in play.


When it comes to the changes to penalties, the goalkeeper must be stationary on the penalty mark and the goalposts, crossbar and goal net must not be moving.

The defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts, without touching the goalposts, crossbar or goal net, until the ball has been kicked.

When the ball is kicked, the defending goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line with, the goal line.

Click here for more details and summary on all of the law changes ahead of the new season.

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