The nine Europa League rule changes Man Utd, Arsenal, Celtic, Rangers fans need to know | Football | Sport

The Europa League group stages get underway this evening and Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves, Celtic and Rangers are the British teams all in action.

There’s nine new rules for fans of those four clubs to be aware of before the competition gets underway for real – although Rangers have already played eight times in the Europa League already this season – after the International Football Association Board passed them through last year.

Steven Gerrard’s side are in the group stage for the second straight year and are joined by Celtic, who dropped out of Champions League qualifying after defeat to CFR Cluj.

Premier League giants Arsenal, who lost the Europa League final last year to Chelsea, and Manchester United – the 2016-17 winners of this competition – join them in the 32-team group stage after finishing fifth and sixth last term, though they have been afforded the luxury of not having to play through the qualifying rounds unlike Wolves, who finished seventh and have beaten Crusaders, Pyunik and Torino to get this far.

But what new rules must all of the clubs and their supporters be aware of ahead of match-day one?


Players will be penalised for using their hands or arms, accidentally or not, to create a goalscoring chance or to score themselves.


Teams will be able to pick three players to come on from as many as 12 substitutes in what is now a 23-man match-day squad, as Liverpool and Tottenham had in last year’s final. Managers previously had only seven players on the bench.


Attackers will have to stand at least one metre away from the defensive wall when a free-kick is about to be taken, rather than interfering with it.


Goal-kicks and free-kicks no longer have to leave the box before a team-mate touches the ball. Opposition players will still not be allowed in the area, however.


They’re extinct. The ball will be given to the goalkeeper of the team who last touched the ball and played have to be four metres away.


Goalkeepers aren’t allowed to touch the goalposts during spot-kicks and they will have to keep one foot on the goal-line as a penalty is being taken.

Leaving the pitch

Players will now be forced to leave the pitch nearest to wherever they are positioned on the field, rather than walking across towards the benches, in an attempt to stop time-wasting.

Coin toss

Coin toss winners will now have the option to kick off first or choose an end to play towards. 

Yellow and red cards

Managers will now receive yellow and red cards for misconduct.

In the first round of group stage fixtures, Eintracht Frankfurt host Arsenal in Group F, with the Gunners in action at 5.55pm tonight. Standard Liege take on Vitoria SC in the other game in the group.

Rangers host Eredivisie giants Feyenoord at Ibrox (8pm) with the two other teams in the Light Blues’ group in action in Portugal, with Porto hosting Young Boys.

While Lazio take on Cluj in Group E, the other match sees Celtic travel to France for an early kick-off against Rennes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are in action, hosting Kazakhstani side Astana at Old Trafford (8pm) with Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar clashing in the other match.

Wolves host Portuguese outfit Braga at Molineux, also at 8pm, in their first main stage match of a European tournament since 1980 while Slovan Bratislava face Besiktas, also in Group K.

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