It’s nearly here!
There’s a matter of hours to go until the new Premier League season kicks off, and excitement is building.
Will Leicester City prove they’re more than just a one season wonder? Will Paul Pogba live up to his whopping price tag? And will Hull City get enough players through the door to actually field a team?
All these questions need to be answered, but there’s also been a number of changes ahead of the new season that football fans will need to get used to, from rule changes to new TV presenters.
With that in mind, here’s a preview of everything you need to know ahead of the new season, which will start with Hull vs Leicester on Saturday lunchtime.
One Man Kick Offs
Let’s be honest, it freaked everyone out when teams started using just one player to kick off during Euro 2016, but the rules have changed.
It’s no longer compulsory for the ball to move forwards at kick offs, so having one man pass backwards into his own half seems like the thing to do.
We can’t guarantee that Tony Pulis’ sides won’t continue to just smash it up towards their biggest striker though, so don’t expect things to change too drastically.
Pre And Post Match Red Cards
We might never see one of these, especially if Diego Costa leaves the Premier League, but referees now have the power to show red cards before and/or after game.
That means if there’s a particularly angry player after a contentious last minute winner, they can be sent off as they hammer the referee as they walk from the pitch.
We just hope that anyone with a haircut as dodgy as Marouane Fellaini’s can be given at least a yellow card the second he steps out of the changing room.
Friday Night Football
Since the new TV deal has now kicked in, probably the biggest change will be the addition of Friday Night football on Sky Sports.
Last season, the Championship used to hold the Friday night slot, but it’s come to the top flight this season – with the first game being Manchester United vs Southampton on August 19.
This is brilliant news, as it means the football starts sooner every week, and gives everyone an extra reason to go to the pub on a Friday night – though quite what the clubs in Europe will think of it remains to be seen.
Players Receiving Treatment On The Pitch
One of the most infuriating rules of the last few years has been the insistence that players must leave the pitch after picking up an injury.
It often led to players missing free kicks and corners, as their team defended a man light, and it didn’t make sense that the team who committed the foul could gain an advantage.
From this season onwards, players who receive treatment on the pitch will be able to carry on without leaving the action, so the sense of justice should return.
The New Ball
Every season, the Premier League ball changes.
This year is arguably the most drastic design yet, with the ball looking like it’s been rolled through an artist’s palette, rather than thought up by a team of designers who probably earn more than it’s worth thinking about.
It’s certainly eye catching though, and at the end of the day it’s just a ball, so remember that if it’s starting to annoy you to the point where you’re thinking of switching off.
Stricter Laws For Abusing Referees
Another new rule change is sure to be an interesting one.
Referees are being encouraged to send off players who swear at match officials, no matter how dodgy the offside call might have been.
Whether or not refs will be brave enough to actually enforce these rules or not will be interesting though, as currently barely any of them have the guts to award a penalty for wrestling at corners.
However, if they do crack down on offenders, a few games may well finish looking like five-a-side contests.
Fans Won’t Be Fleeced When Attending Away Games
This is probably the best news football has had for years.
The ‘Twenty Is Plenty’ campaign to cap all away ticket prices at £20 has finally taken hold – although the cap will be at £30 – which is as good as we can hope for.
Some away games were getting out of hand, with clubs free to charge upwards of £60 for fans, and no one deserves to see football from the worst seats in the stadium for that kind of price.
No More Goal Music
One of the worst things about modern football is the truly fucking painful goal music that some clubs opt to play every time their team hits the back of the net.
Granted, it’s usually more commonly associated with lower league clubs, but the likes of Burnley used to keep the rule the last time they were in the Premier League.
However, the Clarets held a vote among their fans about whether that cringy tradition should continue, and they said no.
So it’ll be interesting to see if other teams follow suit – here’s hoping they do.
No Triple Punishment Law
Another popular rule change is the removal of the ‘triple punishment’ law.
Previously, if a defending player was the last man and fouled an opponent in the penalty box, he’d be sent off as well as conceding a penalty, and that would usually lead to a goal.
But this season, it has been decided that if the foul in the area is accidental, a yellow card is sufficient punishment, as well as the resulting penalty.
This may open up the door for some blatant gamesmanship, but should cancel out any harsh punishments for players who were genuinely trying to get the ball.
New TV Presenters, And The Return Of G-Nev
As Sky Sports try and continue their TV dominance, they’ve drafted in a new presenter, Rachel Riley.
The Countdown numbers genius is a massive Manchester United fan, and has been a regular at United awards ceremonies for years.
Riley will present Friday Night Football with Jeff Stelling, as well as co-hosting Fantasy Football Club with Max Rushden and Paul Merson.
Ed Chamberlin has left to front ITV Racing, with Dave Jones taking his place on Monday Night Football, where he will be joined by Gary Neville – at least some of the time.
Neville has been handed a £300,000 pay rise, despite making a total balls up of the Valencia job, and will make guest appearances on the Monday night slot, rather than be there every week attempting to draw lines and circles on the giant interactive tactics board.
Bring on the new season!