Football Features

Premier League 2022/23: The new rules & changes to the calendar you need to know

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:12, 16 June 2022 | Updated: 14:05, 21 September 2022

The 2022/23 Premier League fixtures have been released, and the new season will soon be upon us.

Arsenal kick off the new campaign on a Friday night with a trip to Crystal Palace on August 5, so the season is definitely closer than people were probably expecting. The question now becomes: what will be different this coming season, both in terms of the changes to the calendar and any new rules?

We’ve had a look and there are six new rules to make note of after IFAB (the International Football Association Board) confirmed changes to the way the game is governed. Those changes, and any alterations to the Premier League calendar, are as follows:

At last, a winter break!

After a long, long while, the Premier League will finally have a winter break.

Alright, it’s only because of the 2022 World Cup being moved to the winter in order to account of the extreme heat in host country Qatar. But still, it’s a winter break of sorts!

There will obviously still be the September and March international breaks, creating a temporary hiatus from club action, with the season set to begin on Friday 5 August and end on Sunday 28 May.

As it stands, the Premier League will play 16 gameweeks up to the weekend of November 12, and then take a six-week pause for the World Cup to take place, before resuming on Boxing Day 2022. However there are currently talks to potentially delay the festive fixtures to give Premier League sides a genuine winter break after what is set to be a gruelling World Cup.

Five subs now the law

The five substitute experiment — which allowed clubs to bring on a maximum of five players per match, but still only in three “windows” per team — was brought in to alleviate the stress on players after the COVID-19 pandemic enforced stoppage in 2019/20. It proved so successful that other leagues (and cup competitions), including the Champions League, have adopted it as default.

The Premier League held out, but IFAB have now made it the law instead of just giving clubs the option. We’ll now see Premier League clubs able to make five subs. Pep Guardiola will be happy!

The Official Coin Tosser

If you can believe this, there was nothing in the rules saying that the referee had to toss a coin to start the game. There had to be a coin toss, but in theory anyone could have done it (why this was never embraced to give local kids a chance is baffling). Well, now it has to be the referee who tosses the coin, it’s in the rules.

Team officials can get sent off!

A change to the rules surrounding penalty shoot-outs now stipulates that team officials can be sent off, in addition to players and coaches. This obviously won’t apply to the Premier League, but as the rules cover all football, keep an eye on the EFL come this time next year for the play-offs.

What to do when players lose control

Eric Cantona assaulted a Crystal Palace fan in January 1995, and it’s taken IFAB until 2022 to officially codify what to do if a player leaves the pitch to assault a non-player (the rule defines it as an “outside agent”) while the ball is in play.

Obviously if it occurs at a dead ball situation, as happened with Cantona, then the game can restart as normal. However if the ball is in play when the incident occurs then the referee will award an indirect free-kick from the position where the player left the pitch.

One foot behind the line

Due to recent rule changes, when facing a penalty the goalkeeper had to have at least one foot on the line, and could take one foot ahead of it if they so desired. However IFAB have declared that goalkeepers can have one foot behind the line, allowing them to start from a deeper position and push off to get more explosive momentum in their efforts to save the spot-kick.

The goalkeeper can handle it!

Apparently the wording in the rules of the game wasn’t 100% clear on who can handle the ball in the area without being sent off. Just think, this whole time anyone could have ‘done a Suarez’ and appealed to the IFAB rulebook as a sign of their innocence!

Not anymore, however, as the rules are now clear that nobody “except a goalkeeper within their penalty area” can handle the ball.