ONE of the ideas behind the rash of law changes we have had in the past three seasons, is to make the game fairer.

Fairer it might be, but it is not always simpler.

In a Premier League match last season, a referee received a lot of criticism when he called back a quick free-kick, taken after he had stopped play to caution a player.

But he was quire correct, as the Law said play must not be restarted until the sanction, in this case a yellow card, had been administered.

But in this season’s changes, a caveat has been introduced to that, but only in certain circumstances.

Firstly, the quick free-kick can be allowed, providing the referee has not already started to administer his disciplinary sanction.

There is, however, another factor the referee must bear in mind.

The non-offending team can only take a quick free-kick, if by doing so, they set up a goal-scoring opportunity.

Otherwise, the referee must call the play back and take the necessary action as before.

If the referee allows the quick free-kick to be taken, the Law says the disciplinary sanction will be administered at the next stoppage.

But what will it be? If the initial foul was to stop an obvious goal-scoring opportunity then it would be a yellow card, as the quick free-kick has resurrected the goal-scoring opportunity.

If the quick free-kick had not been taken, the offender would have received a red card and be sent off.

If the foul had been to stop a promising attack by say pulling an opponent’s shirt, then instead of a yellow card, the offender would get away scot-free as of course the quick free-kick has resulted in a goal-scoring opportunity.

Referees are advised not to let play continue if there has been serious foul play but if in these circumstances, the quick free-kick was allowed, the offender would be sent off either at the next stoppage or when the offender next plays the ball.