Huge rule change impacting Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham being trialled

David Raya releases the ball during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Luton Town
David Raya releases the ball during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Luton Town -Credit:Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is aiming to trial new rules surrounding goalkeepers which could soon affect Premier League clubs. Time-wasting in the Premier League is currently a big topic of conversation as clubs attempt to seek any advantage they can to seal a win or a draw.

Arsenal fans were infuriated at their former goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on Sunday, who has become a 'master' of the dark art of time-wasting. Martinez holds onto the ball for as long as possible before booting it away.

At the moment, 'keepers are only allowed to keep hold of the ball in their hands for six seconds before releasing it. If a goalkeeper takes longer than that, an indirect free kick should be given by the official in the penalty area.

However, in practice, this rule has not been implemented. It is believed referees are currently reluctant to implement the rule because they deem the punishment to exceed the severity of the offence. IFAB believes they may now have an alternative solution to clamp down on goalkeepers bending the rules.

New trials are set to allow goalkeepers eight seconds to distribute the ball from their possession. Should they exceed this, the referee will be advised to award either a corner or a throw-in, in favour of the opposition.

Referees will count down once the ball in clearly in the goalkeeper's possession and once there are five seconds remaining, the official will raise his hand above his head to indicate how long the 'keeper has to play the ball.

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ESPN understands the new rules will be trialled in competitions that do not involve teams from the top two domestic levels or senior ‘A’ international teams. If the trial proves successful, it could be implemented as soon as the 2026-27 season.