Premier League referees’ chief, Mike Riley, has confirmed that officials will cut down on soft penalties next season.
New changes to (Video Assistant Referee) VAR offside could prevent 20 goals from being disallowed.
Riley has held discussions with clubs, players, managers and the Football Supporters’ Association over the past few months to iron out on how matches should be refereed both on the pitch and in the VAR room.
A record 125 penalties (of which 29 came through VAR) were awarded last season, compared to 92 in 2019/2020 and 103 in 2018/2019.
Many of these came from decisions where there was minimal contact between defender and attacker. Referees must now “consider the consequence and the motivation of the player.”
Riley said: “Fundamentally we want the approach to be one that best allows the players to go out and express themselves, allows the Premier League games to flow and means the refereeing team, both as referee and as VAR, don’t intervene for trivial offences.
“Let’s create a free-flowing game, where the threshold is slightly higher than it was last season.”
At least 32 goals were ruled out for offside via VAR decisions last season. Riley admits 20 of the overall total would have stood using the new process for 2021/2022, which will copy that seen at Euro 2020.
“On marginal offside, we’ve now effectively re-introduced the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player,” Riley said.