Short goal kicks, speeding up subs and accidental handballs – the rule changes for 2019/20

Substitute Teddy Bishop runs onto the pitch as a departing Flynn Downes is embraced by Ipswich Town

Substitute Teddy Bishop runs onto the pitch as a departing Flynn Downes is embraced by Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The International Football Association Board have today announced the rule changes that will come into force for the 2019/20 season.


The ball is in play once the kick is taken - it can be played before leaving the penalty area. This is to encourage 'more constructive play'.


The following 'handball' situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

- The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player's hand/arm;

- A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goalscoring opportunity;

Most Read

- The ball touches a player's hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger;

- The ball touches a player's hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm).


A player who is being substituted must leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline/goal line (unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly/immediately at the halfway line or a different point because of safety or injury).


Attacking players will not be allowed into the defensive 'wall' to cause disruption and conflict (which also delays the game).


"A fairer dropped ball procedure will stop the current 'abuses' - a dropped ball will also be given if the ball hits the referee and goes into the goal, the team in possession changes, or a new attack begins."


A team official guilty of misconduct will be shown a yellow card or red card. If the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach who is in the technical area at the time will receive the card.


The team that wins the toss can now choose to take the kick-off or which goal to attack (previously they only had the choice of which goal to attack).

An IFAB statement reads: "The aim is to make the Laws clearer, more accessible and to ensure they reflect the needs of the modern game at all levels. Many of the changes are the result of suggestions from individuals, groups and national FAs from around the world.

"The most recent changes have extended many of the principles established in the 2016/17 revision and, as outlined in the 'play fair!' strategy, have tried to improve the game's attractiveness and the levels of behaviour."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter