FOLLOWING Reading FC's first league game against Sheffield Wednesday, I was asked about a change to the Laws of the Game regarding goal kicks.

Previously, the ball had to be kicked outside the penalty area before it was in play.

That meant it could not be played again by anyone until this happened and if it was played, the kick had to be retaken.

This also related to any free-kick by the defending team inside their own penalty area.

The Law now states the ball is in play as soon as it is kicked.

So, in other words the goalkeeper can kick the ball to a teammate inside the penalty area who can then play it.

Members of the opposing team must still remain outside the penalty area until the goal kick has been taken, but can then enter the area to challenge for the ball.

However, the Law also says any opposing player who hasn’t had time to move out of the penalty area before the kick is taken, may then challenge for the ball before it leaves the area.

What worried me about this is something similar was said when quick free-kicks were first allowed to be taken before opposing players had retreated 10 yards.

As we all know players seldom make any attempt to move away, in fact, usually the very opposite.

I am obviously not the only one to have this reservation, as the IFAB has sent out an e-mail to all the national football associations and federations throughout the world on this very subject.

Basically. the IFAB have said the defending team is trying to gain an advantage by taking the goal kick quickly and if this ‘goes wrong’ the Law is not there to save them.

In the same way opposing players deliberately remaining within the penalty area, should not be allowed to gain an advantage even if the goal kick is taken quickly.

It is therefore up to the referee to decide whether the opposing players genuinely did not have time to leave the penalty area.