Home News Premier League change rule that helped create Liverpool’s ‘Barcelona moment’

Premier League change rule that helped create Liverpool’s ‘Barcelona moment’

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With the Premier League reaching the crucial 10 games left stage, they have given new instructions to ball boys and girls to stem ‘unfair’ home advantage.

We have all witnessed great and indefensible moments with ball boys and girls over the years, from the Eden Hazard altercation to Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s corner taken quickly.

Clubs have not been shy in encouraging balls to be handed over swiftly for their own team, wisely tapping into the advantage of having ball assistants on their side.

However, the Premier League is stopping that in its tracks for the run-in, with the Telegraph reporting ball assistants can no longer throw the balls back to players during a match.

Instead, the multi-ball system will require players to collect a ball from the nearest cone themselves, with the ball boys and girls not even allowed to be next to the cones.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: A Liverpool ball-boy (ball assistant) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a different competition, but Alexander-Arnold’s corner taken quickly in the comeback win over Barcelona wouldn’t have been possible without the swift thinking of ball boy and academy player Oakley Cannonier.

Now, in the Premier League, this would not be possible as the onus is on players if they want to keep the game moving quickly.

The new rule, which will come into effect this weekend, comes after some high-profile incidents with Coventry and Fulham, but it is not said to be the sole catalyst for the alteration.

The rule now states: “When the match ball goes out of play and is not quickly retrievable, players must go to the nearest cone to collect a replacement ball themselves to restart play.

“Ball assistants are not permitted to return a ball to a player. Ball assistants are required to return a ball to a vacant cone each time a replacement ball is used.

“Ball assistants should not be positioned next to cones so that it is clear they will not return balls to players (and be behind LED boards where possible).”

While this does help negate home advantage, surely this also plays into the hands of those wishing to time waste with a leisurely stroll to whichever pitch-side cone they choose.

Liverpool’s ball assistants are members of the club’s academy, just like Jayden Danns, whose picture on the Anfield touchline from less than two years ago recently went viral.