Before the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season, there were some drastic changes made to the laws of the game. These new rules could increase the number of penalties and bookings in a game, as well as reduce the number of red cards throughout the season.
After 18 months of discussions, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) announced more than 95 alterations to the rules of soccer - some of which were trialled at Euro 2016. While the direction the ball moves from the kick-off, the colour of players’ undergarments and injuries being treated on the pitch won’t directly affect betting, some of these new rules will.
Grappling in the penalty area
"Grappling" - defined by the English Football Association as anything that includes shirt pulling, blocking and/or obstruction - is a rule being more actively enforced by Premier League referees. Although not exclusive to corners and free kicks, this infringement most commonly occurs in the penalty area during set pieces.
So far this season, 31 penalties have been awarded in the Premier League. Six of these penalties have been awarded for "grappling" in the penalty area. Smart bettors might consider this increase in the likelihood of a penalty being awarded in a match and it's impact on the total number of goals.
End of the triple punishment rule
Denying a goal scoring opportunity in the Premier League was previously punished by awarding a penalty, giving a red card to whoever committed the foul and that player serving a subsequent three-game suspension - hence the name "triple punishment". However, that rule has now changed.
In instances where the denial of a goal scoring opportunity isn't intentional - if the referee deems it to be accidental - the player committing the foul will only receive a yellow card. A penalty will still be awarded but whoever committed the foul won't be removed from the game and given a suspension.
Player's attitude towards referees has been a longstanding issue in soccer. Verbal dissent is classed as arguing with the referee, running to contest a decision and being disrespectful towards officials - any instance of which is punished with a yellow card. Confronting officials in an aggressive manner or using insulting and/or offensive language will result in a straight red card.
Yellow cards can be of significant value in terms of a betting model for numerous reasons. Two yellow cards in one game is a sending off and a cumulative total of ten yellow cards resulting in a ten-game ban are two obvious examples. Bettors should also think about the changes in playing style, tactics and substitutions that come about because of a booking. As of game week 10 in the Premier League, 337 yellow cards have been shown - giving a projected total of 1,423 total yellow cards. This is a vast increase from the 1,185 in 2015/16, 1,359 in 2014/15 and 1,015 in 2013/14.