Premier League changes: Handshakes are back, Mike Dean on VAR, Christmas rest

It’s been 75 days since the 2021-22 Premier League season ended with Manchester City propelling Liverpool to the title on the final day.

The campaign saw plenty of managerial changes, spectacular goals and questionable refereeing decisions, and also saw the return of packed stadiums and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But more dramatic scripts are waiting to be written in 2022-23.

There are new rules, managers, players and referees, and even the seemingly sacred Christmas schedule has been changed to satisfy clubs after many ridiculed the lack of recovery time between matches.

Oh, and there’s also a Winter World Cup in Qatar to deal with.

So here is Athleticism guide you through the changes you can expect to see…


Handshakes are back but only taking the knee in some games

One of the first things you might notice when Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to kick off the campaign is the return of the pre-match handshake. The Premier League’s COVID-19 protocols have seen this ritual penned.

Another change to be implemented before kick-off is that players and technical staff will no longer take the knee before each game. write in Athleticism, Colchester United striker Frank Nouble called the decision “lazy”. The symbolic gesture, which served to highlight and eradicate racism, had been taking place since June 2020.

Notable Premier League players such as Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace, Ivan Toney of Brentford and Marcos Alonso of Chelsea stopped taking the knee last season. Zaha said it became “demeaning”, while Toney claimed they were “used like puppets”.

The captains of each top club met last Thursday to discuss whether they should keep kneeling and a decision could not be made. They agreed to go back and discuss it with their teammates and it was confirmed on Wednesday that it will no longer happen every week. It will instead take place during select matches, including the first round of matches, Boxing Day matches and No Room for Racism matches in October and March. Players will also take the knee on the final day of the season and ahead of the League Cup and FA Cup finals.


Will the money speak?

Manchester City added Erling Haaland to their squad and Liverpool – their title rivals in recent seasons – spent £64m ($77.5m) to land an equally explosive striker in Darwin Nunez.

Nottingham Forest are mounting their survival bid and have signed former Manchester United striker Jesse Lingard on a one-year deal, along with Taiwo Awoniyi (for a club record fee), Neco Williams, Moussa Niakhate and Orel Mangala.

Manchester United have added Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia and are still targeting Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Chelsea have signed Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly.

North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have apparently made significant strides to close the gap to City and Liverpool.

Spurs spent over £50m to sign Richarlison from Everton while securing notable deals for Yves Bissouma and Djed Spence. Ivan Perisic has also arrived on a free transfer.


Richarlison could help Tottenham pursue their fourth-place finish last season (Photo: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal have attacked Manchester City twice for Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko for around £77m.

Leicester City are the only Premier League team yet to sign a contract.

The transfer window closes at 11 p.m. on September 1. It has been extended by one day because five games are taking place on August 31.


More Mike Dean…

Along with the new signings, there will be notable changes to the refereeing structure, speed of play and VAR.

Perhaps most intriguingly, one of the key areas targeted for improvement this season is how often the ball is in play.

In the 2021-22 campaign, the ball was in play for an average of 55 minutes and seven seconds. This was deemed insufficient and the Premier League worked with referees to try to improve it.

They have derived a new multi-ball system, which they hope will combat the problem. A match ball will be with the fourth official and there will be eight replacement match balls scattered on the floor.

Former Premier League referees Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson retired at the end of last season and took up posts at Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

Moss will become manager of the top-flight referees, while Atkinson will coach ‘selected group one’ (Premier League referees). Kevin Friend is responsible for the development and training of selected Group 2 (Championship) referees.

Jon Moss Huddersfield


Moss’ last game was the Championship play-off final, but he will now manage top-flight officials (Picture: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

And Mike Dean, who retired in May, has taken up a dedicated VAR position. Tom Bramall has moved from selected group two to group one, meaning he will now referee in the Premier League.

All goals, penalties and incidents of mistaken identity will be checked by VAR, but second yellows will not be reviewed or waived by those at Stockley Park.

There has been a change in the rules regarding penalties and the position of the goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper must have “at least part of a touching foot, aligned with or behind the goal line” when the ball is kicked. This wording has been clarified to prevent the goalkeeper from being penalized.

This season will see the permanent return of five replacements.

It was originally introduced in June 2020 to help players deal with fatigue during “Project Restart”.

This follows confirmation from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that all competitions may have the option of allowing five substitutions per game.


More rest at Christmas

A common complaint from Premier League managers is that the Christmas period is too hectic and doesn’t allow enough time for their players to recover.

Teams will no longer be asked to play two games in 48 hours. And when Champions League clubs play away on a Wednesday night, they won’t be expected to play on Saturday lunchtime.

The Premier League has given its approval for clubs to play friendlies during the World Cup, with several teams likely to travel abroad for a training camp in hot weather.

In addition to improving player welfare, fans may notice more sniffer dogs and improved searches when entering a stadium.

There will be an automatic club ban for pitch invaders and supporters using or carrying smoke bombs and pyrotechnics.

“Last season we saw a deterioration in attitudes,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. “We will still see incidents, of course, but unfortunately that will mean people will be banned and face criminal charges.”

(Top photo: Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

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