The top five 2023/2024 Premier League rule changes explained:

5. Rounder Balls

The newly-commissioned Nike ‘Apex’ ball will be 8% rounder than last season’s Nike ‘Flight’. The added roundness is expected to account for an extra 600 to 900 goals per-season and fewer cruciate injuries.

4. No Backheels

As had been widely-expected, the underhanded tactic of deliberately back-heeling a ball will result in a straight red card and automatic six match ban. Two-time offenders face the prospect of a life ban.

3. Black Card

Alongside yellow and red, referees will have discretion to brandish a black card if their physical appearance has been insulted. ‘Baldy cunt’ and ‘fat cunt’ are cited as examples in the revised rulebook, and players receiving a black card must attend 400 hours of sensitivity training in Torquay.

2. Celebrity VAR

For promotional purposes, celebrities will be appointed to the VAR control room in Stockley Park for a minimum of 3 fixtures each week. Dec of ‘Ant & Dec’ fame is cited as an example in the revised rulebook. Ant, also of ‘Ant & Dec’ fame, is similarly cited.

1. No Crotch Protection

Players will no longer be permitted to protect their crotches when defending direct free kicks. According to the revised rulebook, “The full force of the shot must be absorbed by the defending player’s penis and balls, or female equivalents. Should the defending player fall to the ground writhing in agony, play will continue around them until the half-time or full-time whistle blows. Teammates or medical staff observed checking on the wellbeing of the stricken player, will be red-carded.”