The Pools squad completed another essential area of preparation for 2019/20 on Friday morning when local referee Tony Harrington delivered a presentation on new rules for the season.
A lot has been made of the amendments to the Laws of the Game this summer, with the Women’s World Cup shrouded in controversy and provoking huge discussion about the use of VAR.
Of course, video technology has not yet reached the National League but there are many rules that have changed for the fresh campaign and Craig Hignett’s men need to be aware of them.
Harrington – a full-time EFL Championship official from Hartlepool – kindly agreed to give up some of his time to deliver a presentation to the players, highlighting some of the potential pitfalls ahead of the big kick-off.
“There are 27 law amendments for the new season and they will obviously have an impact on the players,” said Harrington.
“This is all just about making sure that everybody is aware of that and making sure they’re comfortable with how they’re going to be interpreted by referees.
“It helps everyone if all the players are prepared for next season by being fully conversant with the law changes and interpretations.”
With so many little tweaks coming in to play affecting such things as handballs, drop balls and substitutions, Pools boss Hignett felt it was essential that the squad were brought up to speed.
Along with video examples of the amendments, Harrington was also able to answer questions thrown at him by the players and the staff in an hour-long session at the training ground.
“One of the big changes is in relation to goal-kicks and free-kicks inside the box because the lads have to know that the ball is now considered live as soon as it’s kicked,” Harrington explained.
“Even though attacking players have to start outside the penalty area, they can come in and intercept once it’s been kicked so, if players aren’t aware, a centre-forward could potentially sneak in and score a goal.
“There is a change to the way drop balls are dealt with because they’re no longer contested and I also wanted to give the players clarity on the handball interpretation and how we’re intending to apply the change.
“There are quite a few teams who request that a referee visits a club before a new season like this and, being from the town, I’m more than happy to help.”
Harrington is scheduled to officiate our upcoming pre-season friendlies against Middlesbrough and York City – which gives him the perfect chance to assess whether his wise words have sunk in!