Forget getting the 17:00 train home from your team’s next match – new refereeing directives in the Premier League and the EFL are ensuring that games could take 100 minutes or more to be completed. In a trend that started at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, match officials are now being asked to record the exact time that stoppages in play last for – including substitutions and goal celebrations.
More action generally means more added time: England’s 6-2 demolition of Iran in the group stage led to a total of 117 minutes of football – 14 minutes of injury time in the first half and 13 in the second – being played. UEFA are now following the same edict as FIFA, originally put forward by the sport’s rule-makers the International Football Association Board (IFAB), so that leagues under its jurisdiction are facing similarly long matches – just two games in the opening weekend of the 2023/24 EFL season took less than 100 minutes in total.
There was controversy in the Community Shield, with Leandro Trossard’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City coming in the 101st minute. City boss, Pep Guardiola, was furious afterwards, claiming that ‘games are going to be 100 minutes, that’s for sure,’ and revealing that no Premier League players or managers have been consulted about the change.
“So in a game that’s 4-3, that’s 45 seconds for the celebrations for each goal. For a game that has seven goals I’ll still be [in a press conference] at 9am the following morning,” the Spaniard quipped.
Manchester United’s Raphael Varane took to Twitter to vent his own fury on the extra ten minutes – or more – that players are going to be forced to ensure every week.
We had a meeting last week with the FA. They recommended from the referees new decisions and rules.
From the managers and players, we have shared our concerns for many years now that there are too many games, the schedule is overcrowded, and it’s at a dangerous level for…
— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) August 7, 2023
Why Is There So Much Added Time in Football Now?
The 2022 World Cup was a stain on football for many reasons, with the new officiating guidelines just one of them. The idea behind the changes is fair enough – there is a desire for there to be 90 minutes of on-field action every game, rather than the ‘lost’ time (due to substitutions, goal celebrations, etc.) that was experienced before.
Incredibly, the average amount of time that the ball was in-play during Premier League games in 2022/23 was just 55 minutes – in the English League Two, it was a staggeringly low 48 minutes. Those are similar timeframes witnessed in other countries too, so IFAB decided that change was necessary to ‘create fairer conditions for both teams in terms of the amount of time available in a match.’
To increase said time, match officials will now add on specific amounts of time – rather than nominal amounts – for:
- Injury stoppages
- Goal celebrations
- Player to leave the field after being sent off
- Time accrued for a penalty to be taken
Because it’s a rule implemented at the top level, the Premier League and the EFL have little choice but to adopt it so that they fall in line with other UEFA competitions – hence the flurry of 100-minute matches that will be witnessed during the 2023/24 campaign.
To help maintain the flow of play, officials are also being asked to be stricter on time wasting tactics – an approach that has already witnessed more yellow cards being dished out in games.
Fair to say the new EFL directives made a helluva difference yesterday…
Cards per-game 2022/23:
3.87 League One
3.67 League Two
Cards per-game 2023/24:
5.75 League One
6.45 League Two
— Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) August 6, 2023
What Are the Rules on Substitutions in the Premier League?
With ten more minutes – at the least – to be played during Premier League games, managers are going to have to be more selective in how and when they use their substitutes. Ahead of the 2022/23 season, new guidelines were introduced that allow managers to make up to five substitutions per game. These can only be made at three different moments within the match and at half-time – therefore limiting the opportunities that winning teams have to waste time by making a substitution to slow the game down.
A total of nine substitutes can be named on a team sheet – up from seven as was the case before 2022/23. With games lasting 100 minutes or more now, it will be interesting to see if the five sub rule is changed in the future to allow managers to make an additional change to counter the extra time being played.