English Football League referees will be told to maintain a higher threshold of fouls, cut down on time wasting and ensure player behaviour does not overstep the mark ahead of the new season.
The PA news agency understands the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the governing body of match officials in England, is committed to making the EFL a better product for the forthcoming campaign, which gets under way this weekend.
It has worked with clubs, the EFL, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and League Managers Association (LMA) to ensure the key decisions made are acceptable to everyone in the game.
Officials have been instructed to adopt a higher threshold for penalising contact in challenges, taking into account how much contact there was, the consequences of it and what the attacking player’s motivation was. They will also be more vigilant of sustained holding at set-pieces.
After the 2021-22 campaign saw less playing time than ever before, referees will also be more proactive in curbing time-wasting and will be prepared to sanction players from earlier in the game.
Participation behaviour will also be strongly managed to ensure incidents of dissent and other poor behaviour are stamped out.
As well as the introduction of five substitutions this season, there is also a minor law change which sees goalkeepers now allowed to have one foot behind the goalline when facing a penalty.
Although last season’s play-off finals at Wembley had VAR, the decision-review system will not be in place for the forthcoming campaign.
The PGMOL is on a FIFA Working Group to help develop ‘VAR Light’ and its possible use, and that would be offered to the EFL if collectively the clubs in each division vote to implement it.
That would not be a quick thing to happen, though, with around 12 months needed to set it up.
The EFL campaign kicks off on Friday with Huddersfield hosting Burnley in the Championship.
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