Offside rule to be tweaked in the 2015/16 season
The small change makes decisions a lot easier for referees.
The Premier League 2015/16 season is around the corner and as fans wait on the edge of their seats in anticipation of English football’s greatest spectacle to restart, there are a few things that have been changing for the league over the summer. One of them is the offside rule that has been tweaked from the past seasons.
The rule until the previous season stated that offside can be ruled only when the player in an offside position comes in contact with the ball. Which essentially meant that when a player scored with a shot at goal and his team-mate in an offside position stretches to reach it but makes no contact, the goal would stand.
However, the rule is set to be changed in the upcoming season, so a player in an offside position will be ruled to be running afoul even if he makes a play for the ball. In essence, it does not require the player to be directly in contact with the ball but even a move made towards it or an attempt to bring it under control could spark the referee’s whistle.
Scottish Football Association referee Steven McLean explained the rule with an example to Sky Sports. He said: “There was a situation last season in the Scottish Cup I believe – St Johnstone versus Ross County – John Beaton was the referee and the attacker was in an offside position and made an obvious action which impacted on the goalkeeper’s ability to save the ball.
“That was allowed as a goal last year – correctly – but this year it will be penalised as offside.”
A similar incident took place in the FA Cup last season as Manchester United took on Preston in an away fixture for the Red Devils. The home side led till the 65th minute when Ander Herrera scored. However, the goal wasn't without controversy as Herrera's scuffed shot went past Wayne Rooney on the way into the goal.
Rooney was in an offside position and could have been construed as interfering with play, however, on that day the goal stood but with the introduction of the tweaked set of rules, there will be a certain amount of clarity on the ruling of referees.
There will still be a certain amount of debate as to whether the player in question makes legible movements towards the ball or not but the rule goes a long way in easing the referees’ decisions in the matter. Perhaps, it will also mean that linesmen will not wait till the player touches the ball from an offside position to raise their flag, to make things clearer.