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PL referees change offside rule after controversial Bernardo Silva goal

Published on: 26 January 2021

Guidance has been added to the offside rule – which would have rendered Manchester City's controversial goal against Aston Villa offside in a move which has been described as a 'face-saving exercise'.

Urgent talks were held after outrage followed Bernardo Silva's opener at the Etihad Stadium, which saw City midfielder Rodri come from an offside position to steal the ball from Tyrone Mings and set up the Portugal man to break the deadlock in an eventual 2-0 win for the home side.

Mings himself branded the decision 'nonsense' while his manager, Dean Smith, was sent off for overstepping the mark with his protests against the VAR-referred goal to the referee.

Red-faced refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Ltd said the goal had been allowed under a little-known law that reads: 'A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including by deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate save by any opponent.'

The Premier League also issued a statement outlining why the goal stood.

However, it can be revealed that PGMOL subsequently held a summit with rule-makers the International Football Association Board and UEFA to discuss the issue.

And Sportsmail can disclose that changes have now been made which would see the goal disallowed if it was to happen in the future.

Guidance has been added to Law 11 (offside) which states: 'Where a player in an offside position immediately impacts on an opponent who has deliberately played the ball, the match officials should prioritise challenging an opponent for the ball, and thus the offside offence of "interfering with an opponent by impacting on the opponent's ability to play the ball" should be penalised.

In plain terms, that means that from now on, players repeating Rodri's trick would be penalised.

However, goals such as that scored by Villa's Ollie Watkins, in which he came from an offside position to seize on an attempted clearance by Newcastle's Fabian Schar earlier this month, would stand as he did 'not impact Schar's ability to play the ball'.

A source at a top flight club lambasted the move. 'Once again they are closing the stable door after the horse has bolted,' they said.

'Why they could not have just held their hands up and admitted it was the wrong decision in the first place is beyond me. Instead they have chosen to carry out a face-saving exercise.'


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