DID you know 40 new rule changes made by FIFA had already come into play over the summer and will be appearing at a Scottish football ground near you?

For example, drop balls can no longer be contested. A player substituted can now be told by the referee to walk off from where he is standing and not have to get himself over to shake hands with his replacement.

Opposition players can’t stand in a defensive wall when there are three or more defenders in it. Of the many tweaks to the handball rule, if a ball come off a player and onto his hand/arm, or hits another player and does that, it’s not a penalty or a free-kick.

Managers and coaches can be shown yellow and red cards. If someone says a naughty thing from the technical area, and no official can say for certain who it was, then it’s the manager who gets sent off.


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And there are more. Some are silly – a plater can be booked for taking off his shirt even when the ‘goal’ is disallowed – and drinks breaks are a maximum of one minute for whatever reason.

Time is a factor in these changes. Apparently, your average game sees the ball in play for only an hour. In the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham, the ball was in play for 25 minutes in each half.

So, it is hope some of the new regulations will give us more football. If it works, who can argue?

Given that many a football fan doesn’t understand the ‘last man’ rule or when a player should be red carded after conceding a penalty, my guess is that most of the 40 changes will fly over the heads of almost all who go to games.

And I include players. Any changes are handed into the clubs by the SFA and referees, but it’s a fair assumption to come to that a fair chunk are not going to pour over the many pages of FIFA’s new sets of rules.

But the referees and assistants, at every level, must know them all, from top to bottom, how to judge the grey areas, while making sure those eyes in the back of his head are peeled.

Some they will get wrong and because there is no VAR, there’s no safety net. Referees will be judged, as Bobby Madden said last week, by a clip, a still, which 100 per cent proves that he and his colleagues are biased, wear an apron every Tuesday, are in the mafia, incompetent or, I don’t know, drunk, in the minds of those with tinfoil hats.


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Conspiracy theorists in general don’t know the rules because a little knowledge could well ruin their theories which so many are happy to reveal on their own YouTube channel which is filmed live from their basement.

Forget anyone being anti Celtic or Rangers, or indeed pro west coast, we should try being pro referee and anti moron this season.

I’m getting to the stage in life where I have precious little patience left for those who at games, or on social media, rant and rave about the injustices suffered by a team they just so happen to support when the reality is, almost every time, that their set of players didn’t on this occasion, play as well as the other set.

Yes, mistakes are made. We can all recall the penalty that should never have been given in a tight match. The punch to the face missed. The ridiculous offside decision, either when a goal stood or got chopped off, which decided a game.

And, of course, some refs are better than others. Players much prefer the ones happy to talk through the game and explain their decisions, rather than not say a word when in a polite manner they get asked a simple question.

I realise this is shouting into an empty cave but Bobby, Willie, Kevin, Craig and the rest do their best in a job which is far too difficult these days. Football is too fast. Supporters too quick to spread lies about them after games and then repeat again and again.


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You know the type. Someone posts that they saw Ref X in the WATP Arms just ten minutes after an Old Firm game singing Penny Arcade.

“It’s pure true, man. My mate Tam says he’s always in there…even before games.”

I was surprised to here Madden last week speak so passionately about the need for Scottish football to introduce VAR. I’m still not convinced by it but then I’m not a referee whose private life becomes the subject of debate after a game when he missed a free-kick because there were five players between himself and the incident.

Our referees want VAR because Scottish football as while isn’t mature or reasonable when it comes to the 23rd guy on the pitch who never scores a goal, misses a tackle or misplaces a pass, but still gets the blame from someone.

“Another honest mistake,” as some Celtic fans say, as if they are always honest and, quite frankly, give off the impression that their entire life is something of an error.

Windows have been panned in, threats made (some appalling), lies spread, families affected, kids bullied at school and because of what; a 50/50 decision in a football match. Scotland in 2019 must be better than this.

There is to be an app of all football rules which can be downloaded. I’d suggest it for every fan so they can do their own version of VAR whenever a referee makes a decision they don’t understand.