As Chelsea take on Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals, a new rule is set to be trialled were the match to finish in a draw: a fourth substitute will be allowed for either side in extra time. And there is another interesting change being proposed to the game concerning a change to penalty shoot-outs.
After the same meeting that resulted in the trialling of the fourth substitute, the rule-making body of football - the International Football Association Board - announced that it is seeking to trial a change to the order in which penalty shoot-outs run. Now, players from either team alternate. But the IFAB are looking at trialling an order mirroring the serving pattern in a tennis tiebreaker (as ESPN reports), where after one team shooting first their opponents take the next two, then it swaps over again for two penalties and continues like this (AB-BA-AB-BA-AB) for ten penalties until sudden death and the resumption of alternate penalties.
In announcing the change the IFAB referred to research that shows that the first team taking penalty kicks has a 60% chance of winning the shootout. Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan is quoted thus on ESPN:
We believe that the ABBA approach could remove that statistical bias and this is something that we will now look to trial. It would mean the first 10 kicks are taken under the ABBA system and then when it gets to next-goal-wins then it would revert to alternate penalties.
Another significant move - that it is hoped will come into major tournament football by the 2018 World Cup - is the introduction of a video ref (akin to that used in rugby), a system which is set to be trialled at the U20 World Cup and Confederations Cup as well as in the Bundesliga and Major League Soccer.