Rule Changes Will Ensure Late Finishes At Sincil Bank

Credit Graham Burrell

Game management is a term I think I first heard when Danny and Nicky’s side took a 1-0 lead with ten minutes to go. It’s the art of slowing the game down, ensuring play is broken up and minutes are lost. Let’s face it, how often does the referee actually add on the right number of minutes for goals, subs, and the like?

This season, that’s exactly what they are going to do. A statement from the EFL has announced that for the 2023/24 season, referees will add on the exact amount of time that play has been stopped for a host of different incidents. If you like to get out of the ground to get the half five bus, or enjoy having you feet up and tea on the table in time for the six o’clock news, you might be out of luck.

Credit Graham Burrell

What Are The Changes?

What are the major changes were are expecting this season?


This season, the clock will stop for the following events. 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). Whilst first halves shouldn’t be hugely affected, those rules are going to mean long spells at the end of matches where I believe we’ll expect to see ten minutes or more added on.

That’s not the only change. The EFL are desperate to crack down on the ball being out of play, so expect a multiball system, and more bookings for delaying the restart of play and failing to respect the required distance at free-kicks. Some teams are not going to fare well here, if the rules are implemented properly.

Credit Graham Burrell

Injured Players

There are also changes to injured players and their treatment. It’s reported most injuries must now be treated off the field, and players who are treated off the field will not be allowed back on for at least 30 seconds, more if the referee deems it so. This seems really harsh, especially if you’re defending and a centre-half needs attention, but it’s the rules. There are exceptions to this, players will receive treatment on the field if:

  • 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.

The obvious intention here is to avoid players going down to kill time. Of course, it won’t stop Farman time – I wonder how many keepers will go down with injuries this season?

Credit Graham Burrell


I can only imagine that these changes will lead to two things – more time with the ball in play (good) and longer matches, especially in the early weeks as referees get to grips with the system. It will also lead to Football Twitter (urgh) making videos of timings and comparing it to injury time, suggesting their team, losing 1-0 and unable to score in 97 minutes, might have levelled if the referee had added on another 20 seconds.

Personally, despite there being lots of scope for misunderstanding and argument, I’m all for these changes. We pay to watch 90 minutes of football and some team managed by some characters (cough, Evans) are very good at ensuring you get no more than 50 minutes of the ball in play.