VAR, handball and subs: Premier League rule changes revealed for new season

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We are now less than three weeks away from the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season.

We've barely recovered from all the excitement of Euro 2020 and the Copa America, but the new domestic campaign is already almost upon us.

Aside from getting to know new faces in terms of players and coaching staff, fans have also become used to having to familiarise themselves with updated rules and regulations at the start of each season.

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The 2021/22 campaign will be no exception as Premier League chiefs have tinkered with a number of laws during the close season. Here, per Sky Sports, are the key changes you need to look out for

What are the key rule changes for the 2021/22 Premier League season?

Thicker VAR lines

The first point to raise in terms of changes for the new season is that the lines used by Premier League VAR's to rule on offside decisions will be made thicker. How much thicker? We don't actually know, but the theory is that these larger markers will help prevent goals from being chalked off where a decision is marginal; i.e. where a player's toe has previously led to a goal being ruled out.

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As mentioned, we aren't yet aware of the exact details behind the change, but this shift in policy definitely indicates that the benefit of the doubt will now go with the attacking side - something which frustrated fans have been asking for since the VAR system was introduced.

Viewers will also no longer be forced to watch the lines being drawn by VAR. This time around fans will only be shown the decisive image from which the final decision is made. All in all, these changes appear to be a positive move.

Offside clarification

FIFA has now confirmed that the bottom of a player's armpit is to be taken as the part of the body where offside decisions will be measured from - and, as you would expect, this extends to the Premier League.

Changes to handball regulations

In a change that many will welcome, accidental handball in the build-up to a goal should no longer result in that goal being ruled out. However, where the ball is accidentally handled in the act of either creating a chance or scoring a goal, officials have still been instructed to chalk those efforts off.

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New language has also been added to the rules governing handball situations where a player has made their body "unnaturally bigger".

The new wording reads: "A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player's body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised."

In short, this means that a decision on whether a player has deliberately moved their body to gain an advantage will be left to the match officials to decide on an individual basis - which is sure to lead to controversy down the line. 

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Brought about by the impact of COVID, the rule which had allowed EFL clubs to make five substitutions in a game has been scrapped. All sides will now only be permitted three changes per match from their total of seven named replacements.

It is worth pointing out, though, both the Premier League and EFL will continue to allow concussion substitutes where necessary.

One way in which this summer's Euro 2020 tournament showed itself to be vastly superior to last season's Premier League competition was with its use of VAR.

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Overly clunky, confusing and time-consuming in the English top-flight in 2020/21, the efficiency with which officials dealt with VAR referrals during the European Championships was very noticeable by comparision.

Hopefully, lessons can be learned from the way that UEFA ran the VAR system during the competition. More action - and less VAR - is one change that all fans can surely agree on.

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