Football rule changes 2018: sin bins and subs

Read More
Back to Blog home

Football rule changes 2018: sin bins and subs

Back in May 2018, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) published changes to the rules of football and they came into force at the start of June.

Though it has said that national football associations have the option to modify some or all of their interpretations, dependant on a particular country, here’s a summary of the updates for the new 2018/19 season.

As you’d expect, changes take time to bed in, be understood and implemented fully but while there are amendments to the rules of football from international level down, we’ll focus on some key aspects that will affect clubs.


Sin bins

‘Temporary dismissals’ (as it’s been termed) for dissent were first trialled in 2017/18 in 31 grassroots leagues. It was on the basis that if a player is shown a yellow card for dissent, he or she will have to leave the field for 10 minutes.

The referee’s signal for a temporary dismissal is by showing a yellow card and then pointing with both arms to the temporary dismissal area. In club football, there are any number of questions, not least who keeps track of the timings and where the dismissal area is!

Quibbles aside, the Football Association (FA) reported it saw a 38% reduction in dissent and so for the 2018/19 season, 61 other leagues will join the trial and then in 2019-20, all leagues at step seven or tier five and below will participate.

It remains to be seen if temporary dismissals are used for other yellow card offences in future but the FA has the power to introduce this, in all likelihood, in the same stepped approach through trials.


For any level except competitions involving the first team of clubs in the top division or ‘A’ international teams, the number of substitutions is up to five.

As from now, there is no formal limit on the number of substitutes that can be used in youth football. That being said, it is can be open to leagues locally and interpretation/co-operation between referee and both teams.

Football law changes - goal kick pic 1Could there be further changes on the horizon?

The International Football Association Board has stressed that for youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football, a variety of aspects relating to the governance of the game is open to change including:

  • Size of the field of play
  • Size, weight and material of the ball
  • Width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the ground
  • Duration of the two (equal) halves of the game (and two equal halves of extra time)
  • The use of return substitutes
  • The use of temporary dismissals (sin bins) for some/all cautions (YCs)

Further reading:

The Football Association (FA) website has the Laws of the Game and FA Rules that explain each individual law from field of play to the corner kick. Ultimately, there is a hierarchy in decision-making from the IFAB to the FA and down to county FAs then leagues across a region.

In addition, the IFAB website has the new changes to the rules of football and further explanation.

Related Posts

How to find sports clubs near me?

Picking sports clubs near me can be as simple as firing up Google. The search engine matches the location...
Continue Reading

Respect: The highs and lows of a football coach

There was a video clip from a club’s football coach that caught the eye over the past week having already...
Continue Reading