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EFL confirm big changes for 2023/24 with new approach brought in to tackle time-wasting

EFL confirm big changes for the 2023/24 season with Match Officials taking to a new approach brought in to tackle time-wasting.

The league organisation have announced a new range of measures with the hope of improving the amount of time the ball is in play during games.

We will now see a change in the way added time is calculated, similar to what was adopted during the men’s World Cup in Qatar at the end of last year and is the same for the Women’s World Cup currently taking place in Australia and New Zealand.


Match Officials in the EFL will adopt a new approach to time keeping in the 2023/24 campaign.

In line with the most recent IFAB guidance, the EFL and PGMOL are committed to ensure a more accurate calculation of additional time alongside an improvement in the amount of time the ball is in-play from the start of the new season.

Below is a summary of the key changes relating to additional time, treatment of players, law changes and participant behaviour, that will take effect from the first game of the EFL season on Friday 4 August.

Enhancing ball in-play times

As the game collectively looks to enhance the amount of time the ball is in play in the forthcoming campaign, the exact time lost when certain game events occur will now be added. In previous seasons the policy was to add on a nominal period of time for certain game events. The events include:

  • Goals and subsequent celebrations
  • Substitutions
  • Injuries and treatment time (if required)
  • Penalties (from moment of offence to the whistle for the penalty kick)
  • Red cards (from moment of offence to when the player leaves the field)

Alongside a more accurate allowance for time lost during the game, the EFL will also adopt the multi-ball system, which has been proven to increase ball in-play time.

Match officials will also be taking a more robust approach to dealing with clear/deliberate actions that are impactful in delaying the restart of play, with players cautioned if they are guilty of:

  • Delaying the restart of play
  • Failing to respect the required distance at free-kicks.

Supporters across the game will be familiar with the changes in relation to the calculation of additional time, with both the Men’s World Cup in 2022 and Women’s World Cup this summer adopting a variation of this approach.

Treatment of players

Players who require assessment on the pitch for a potential injury will now receive treatment off the field of play​, apart from certain circumstances as laid out in Law 5 of the Laws of the Game:

  • A goalkeeper is injured.
  • A goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need attention.
  • Players from the same team have collided and need attention.
  • A severe injury has occurred.
  • A player is injured as the result of a physical offence for which the opponent is cautioned or sent off (e.g., reckless or serious foul challenge), if the assessment/treatment is completed quickly.
  • A penalty has been awarded and the injured player will be the taker.

After the restart of play, a period of time – not less than 30 seconds – will be afforded for the player to be treated and they will not return to the pitch before this period has elapsed​. As always, the player’s return to the pitch requires the referee’s permission​ and may be delayed beyond 30 seconds if the phase of play is in the vicinity of the player looking to re-enter the pitch.​

In circumstances where a player declines the physio, if a team-mate clearly delays or refuses to re-start the game that team-mate will be issued a yellow card​. This will promote player safety, which is of paramount importance to the match officials, and act as a deterrent to players who request attention as a tactic to waste time or break the momentum of the game.

Key Law changes
Amongst the Law changes for 2023/24, as outlined by The IFAB, is an update on the wording of a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and a change of an element of previous guidance to offside law (Law 11).

Denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity
Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick:

  • A yellow card will be issued if the offence was an attempt to play the ball or a challenge for the ball.
  • A red card will be shown in all other circumstances (e.g., holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball)

The additional wording means that whilst cynical non-footballing actions such as clear holding, pushing and handball offences will continue to be sanctioned with a penalty and red card, where there is an attempt to play the ball or challenge for the ball a penalty and yellow card is the expected outcome.

Regarding offside, The IFAB and FIFA have also clarified the guidelines for determining a ‘deliberate play’ by a defender.

A ‘deliberate play’ is when a player has control of the ball and with the possibility of:

  • Passing the ball to a team-mate; or
  • Gaining possession of the ball; or
  • Clearing the ball (e.g., by kicking or heading it)

If a player is considered to be in control of the pass, attempt to gain possession or clearance, this would be a ‘deliberate play’ and the attacker in an offside position should not be penalised for offside. An inaccurate or unsuccessful action does not change the fact that the defender ‘deliberately played’ the ball.

High threshold

As attempts continue to be made to keep the game flowing, a high threshold for penalising contact will remain, with officials not awarding a foul for all contact yet penalising when contact has a detrimental impact on an opponent.

Participant behaviour

Similarly to delaying the restart, match officials will be empowered by the game to take a more robust approach to dealing with participant behaviour when it falls below expected standards on-field and in the technical area.

Full details will be announced ahead of the new season as part of the Love Football, Protect the Game campaign.

SEE MORE: EFL announce regulation changes voted by clubs ahead of the 2023/24 season

This is what fans are saying as EFL confirm big changes for 2023/24 with a new approach brought in to tackle time-wasting…

@MarkHow63958178: What, they will continue to warn the GK of time wasting from the 20th min & then eventually book them in the 94th…… Like the holding rule at a corner, it won’t last long!!!

@sgj9wtk8b6: Shame the officials you employ will mostly be incapable of adapting to these changes

@bigcapsy: A real shame this. Shithousing your way to a win is a skill and an important and entertaining part of the game. All this does is make sure the smaller teams will cause fewer upsets and create a much more boring product.

@ccama15: It’s alright saying it but they have to implement it. Referees are far too lenient when it comes to booking players for time wasting especially goalkeepers. Clamp down on it from the beginning and it will stop but that appears to be too difficult a concept for them

@PaddySisyphus: Absolute dogshit, if you ask me. Routinely having 10+ minutes of stoppage time when we all just want to get to the pub. We love going, but we also love getting away.

@Phodge99: Good…. If the refs actually follow it.

@LewSale: Don’t restrict the additional time to the EFL, it needs to happen down the pyramid too. I’ve lost count the amount of games I’ve been to and watched when minutes haven’t been added on, which not only could affect the outcome of a game, but short changes the paying spectator.

@AidanMerritt1: Hopefully this is cracked down on and implemented properly, thought it was brilliant in the World Cup and glad its being brought to the domestic game sooner rather than later.

@PargeyBCAFC: Don’t believe a word of it #FuckTheEFL

@MichaelRealReed: Shame none of that was ever done last season 🙄

The new approach –
Wrexham are losing: 20 minutes added on
Wrexham are winning: game ends in the 85th minute

@RobertTopham7: Big fan of the crackdown on holding/pulling in the box and time wasting… think the deliberate play thing in relation to offsides is still going to come down to referee discretion though

@isaac_meat: I’ll give them untill match day 3 untill they revert back to normal

@LeoRobsonSTFC: Can you also make it so only people who have eyes can referee football matches?

@andysimms1989: Just introduce a timekeeper

@damnberry: It’s brilliant on paper but when refs don’t card anyone in the first five minutes regardless of what they do like “putting the studs on someone early” what actually is the point? We know youll give a keeper a yellow card for time wasting in extra time. It’s too late

@dcfcstephen: Expecting at least 40 minutes added time at Pride Park this season then if last season was anything to go by.

All this technology :-
1) time the stadium clocks show/sync to ref’s watch.
2) will the stadium clocks carry on pass 90 mins so fans in the stadium can see the ‘extra time’
3) interested to see this implementated fairly through the season for all teams #dcfcfans

@andybroomeBWFC: Very promising, but I won’t get my hopes up until I’ve seen it implemented correctly in games. It’s a much needed change, but I don’t trust EFL officials to get it right yet

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