New rules Premier League referees will enforce this season

New rules Premier League referees will enforce this season

August 8, 2023

Instant yellow cards for talking back to the ref, bookings if players don’t retreat from dead balls… and why is there SO much injury time? All the new rules referees are enforcing in the Premier League this season

  • A number of new rules have been brought in place for the new campaign
  • Some of these changes were visible during Arsenal’s Community Shield win 
  • Mail Sport runs you through the changes ahead of the 2023-24 season 

The start of a new Premier League season always brings much intrigue and anticipation, with fans excited about what their teams can deliver after a summer of change.

There have been some big summer transfers with the likes of Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Rasmus Hojlund and Josko Gvardiol all moving for big money. There have also been some big-name departures of players leaving the league for pastures new.

Another factor that could have an influence on the upcoming season is the rule changes that have been put in place for the start of the campaign.

Some of these were instantly noticeable during Arsenal’s Community Shield victory over Manchester City.

Here, Mail Sport runs you through all the rule changes that referees will be enforcing this season.

There are a number of new rule changes for the 2023-24 season, with some coming into play during Arsenal’s Community Shield victory over Manchester City at the weekend

Crowding referees 

The issue of players crowding around referees to complain about their decisions has been rife in the Premier League for many years.

Most teams have fallen guilty to it, with one recent case towards the end of last season coming when Liverpool players failed to control themselves following a challenge by Man City’s Rodri and crowded around Simon Hooper. 

Liverpool, like other sides, were charged and fined by the FA, though this season players can expect to see more punishment handed out to them on the pitch.  

This season, whenever more than one player approaches the referee, at least one of those players, and potentially more, will be shown an automatic yellow card. 

Any player that runs from distance to approach match officials are more likely to be booked.  So while Mario Lemina’s second yellow card for Wolves against Southampton for ‘running aggressively’ was undeniably harsh at the time, the fact he ran from distance to protest a decision would mean he’d likely get a yellow this year. 

If the rule is followed, it’s likely that a number of players will fall victim to it, especially during the early phases of the season and we could see a few red cards. 

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher told Sky Sports that it will be ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’. 

Players can expect to receive yellow card if more than one approaches the referee to complain about a decision 

Manager behaviour

The behaviour of managers and their backroom staff will come under greater scrutiny this season. 

It means that the sight of Jurgen Klopp screaming in the face of the fourth official, Mikel Arteta waving his arms about in frustration at the refereeing as well as Pep Guardiola’s antics, could all be a thing of the past.

An automatic yellow card will be dished out if there is ever more than one coach in the technical areas.

There will be harsher penalties for bosses that leave their technical areas, and aggression from them or their coaches towards match officials or opponents will be routinely met with a red card.

Those given a red card won’t be able to watch from the stand or on top of a dugout like Arsene Wenger once attempted, but instead they will need to be out of sight of the pitch. 

Similar to players, if managers start demanding cards then they too will be punished, as Arteta fell foul of during the Community Shield final.

The Spaniard was shown a yellow card for waving an imaginary yellow card following a challenge from Rodri on Kai Havertz.

Mikel Arteta was handed a yellow card for waving an imaginary card as he felt Rodri should have been booked for a challenge on Kai Havertz


If this was last season, we might be talking about how Manchester City beat Arsenal in the Community Shield on Sunday.

However, the Gunners were able to win on penalties, after Leandro Trossard scored a goal in the 101st minute.

That’s because this season, the Premier League and EFL will bear much more resemblance to the Qatar World Cup – where there were some games that fans had to put aside two hours to watch from start to finish, without extra time and penalties.

Officials became concerned with statistics showing how little the ball was in play during matches in England with averages last season of just under 55 minutes in the Premier League and as low as 48 minutes in League Two.

Lengthy delays led to Leandro Trossard netting a 101st minute equaliser against Man City

Referees will now be obliged to time how long the game is stopped before the re-start for game interruptions, such as a goal, substitution, injury, or preparations for a free-kick. 

More time will also be added for goal celebrations, with officials feeling they have become lengthier over the years.  

It means huge amounts of stoppage time could be awarded in manic games full of goals, bookings and talking points.

England’s World Cup clash with Iran lasted a total of 117 minutes, after two concussion-related injuries, eight goals and ten substitutions in the 90 minutes.  

Fans attending late games who need to get the last train home will certainly be hoping this isn’t the case when they go to watch their club. 

England’s game with Iran at the World Cup saw a huge amount of additional time added  


The sight of goalkeepers being punished for timewasting is nothing new, as they regularly get punished if they do so in the final stages of the match with a yellow card.

However, from this season, time-wasting will no longer be restricted to the final minutes and referees can now dish out an early warning if they feel the keeper is taking too long.  

Meanwhile, referees will be more robust in penalising ‘clear and impactful actions’ that waste time – not just for the obvious act of kicking the ball away. 

Goalkeeper sportsmanship

Or what we could call the ‘Emiliano Martinez’ law.

The Aston Villa keeper attracted a lot of criticism for his antics during Argentina’s penalty shootout victory over France in the World Cup final.

His mind games worked a treat to allow Lionel Messi and Co to lift the trophy, but new rules in the aftermath of his actions mean keepers will now be disciplined if they try to unfairly delay the taking of the penalty.

It also states they can’t delay the kick by touching the goalposts, crossbar or the net.

There’s no mention of the dancing and flailing arms that numerous keepers, such as Jerzy Dudek in the 2005 Champions League final for Liverpool, have done in the past.  

Emiliano Martinez’s antics in the World Cup final has led to lawmakers announcing new rules when it comes to keepers delaying penalty-kick takers


While this one isn’t necessarily new as it was implemented last season, it is officially in writing now.

The new law states that ‘a player who is clearly offside should not become onside on every occasion when an opponent moves and touches the ball’.

Essentially this means there’s no longer a guarantee that a player will be deemed onside if the ball touched an opponent before him.  

Denying goalscoring opportunity 

In the past, players who are through on goal and are tackled by a defender who has none of his team-mates also there to cover are sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

However in 2023-24, only fouls that are deemed intentional will get an automatic red and infringements where players made a genuine attempt at playing the ball will get a yellow.

In other circumstances such as holding, pulling, pushing, or they had no possibility to play the ball – the player will be sent off.

The new laws from the FA also specify that a player must be cautioned if they handle the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack.

They will also be cautioned in any other way that stops a promising attack, except for when the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball.

Also in an attempt to allow the game to flow better with reduced stoppages, a higher threshold will be applied to contact between players, which is hoped to reduce the number of free kicks.  

However, as per the existing referee guidelines, any challenge deemed ‘careless’ will be deemed a foul, any which are “reckless” will receive a yellow card, and any player who ‘endangers the safety’ of an opponent will be sent off.

Premier League players will no longer get an automatic red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity

FA to crackdown on grassroots poor behaviour

There will also be changes in the grassroots game from the start of this season.

Repeated offences against referees, and other unacceptable behaviour, will see teams deducted points from their league tally in the coming season.

It comes as the FA will also extend its trial of the use of bodycams for grassroots referees for the 2023-24 season to try to combat poor behaviour in the amateur game.

The cameras are powered for the full 90 minutes but are only turned on to record if the referees feel threatened or become aware of violence or abuse on the pitch. Once the record button is pressed, it also saves the previous 30 seconds of action. 

The bodycams were introduced in four areas in January – Middlesbrough (North Riding), Liverpool, Essex and Worcestershire, and it’s believed to have led to improvements in player and fan behaviour. 

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