ONE of the main prerequisites of a referee, is to know and understand the Laws of the Game.

They get examined on the Laws, of course, when they start refereeing.

However, there have been wholesale changes, since the new team has taken over at the Law makers, the International FA Board, which they have to assimilate.

Two seasons ago there were 57 changes or clarifications. Last season there were another 32. This coming season, starting in June, there are 27 more.

Some of these have been trialled during the past two seasons in various competitions, which we are told have been successful.

Next season, all referees must act upon all these latest changes.

Let me give a taste of the major alterations. A dropped ball is one of the most innocuous of the laws, but Reading fans may remember the uproar it caused in the game against Wigan earlier this year. This has been changed again (for the fourth time).

Perhaps the most dramatic of the changes is with handball.

Generally speaking, it will still need to be deliberate to be an offence, but in certain circumstances it will be penalised even if it is accidental.

There was a video recently, where the ball rebounded at a penalty kick, hitting the watching referee and going in the goal which was allowed.

This won’t happen any longer.

Players being substituted will have to leave the pitch by the shortest route.

The choice for captains at kick-off has been changed (back to what it used to be).

At goal kicks, the ball will no longer have to travel outside the penalty area before it is in play.

Where there is a ‘wall’ at a free kick, attacking players must be separated from the defenders.

Trialled on the Football League this year, as Reading fans will know, there will be red and yellow cards for team officials.

As well as assimilating all these changes, local referees will also be faced with another major change to the game when the season starts again – sin bins.