Premier League on for staggering 70 controversial handball decisions this season alone under ultra-strict new laws

THE PREMIER LEAGUE is on course for more than 70 controversial handball penalties this season if the hardline enforcement of the new Law continues.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was uncharacteristically speechless in his fury after Eric Dier was penalised in the 95th minute to award Newcastle a last kick penalty equaliser on Sunday.

Even Toon boss Steve Bruce sympathised with his opposite number, branding the decision “a nonsense” and urging Prem managers to come together to demand a change.

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Bruce’s intervention came 24 hours after similar comments from Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson after his side were sunk by Everton after a spot-kick awarded against Joel Ward.

But with Prem refs having been forced to come into line by Fifa refs’ chief Pierluigi Collina, after previously adopting a far looser approach to the Law change that was enacted for the start of the 2018-19 season, a record-breaking season of penalties is almost certain.

So far, there have been five “VAR handball penalties” awarded from just 26 Prem games, with a total of 16 spot kicks given.

Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof was the first to fall foul of the new clampdown against Crystal Palace, followed by Spurs’ Matt Doherty in the latter stages of their 5-2 win at Southampton.

Saturday saw Brighton’s Neil Maupay concede the match-winning spot kick against United and Ward’s adjudged indiscretion to hand Richarlison the spot-kick winner, before Dier was pinged despite not even looking at the ball when it struck him off Andy Carroll’s header.

If the same rate of awards continues through the season, there will be 73 such handball penalties awarded over the course of the campaign and a staggering 234 spot kicks in total.

No wonder former top ref Mark Halsey says the game is dying under the new Law.

Pay the penalty

THE Premier League is set for a penalty bonanza this campaign.

If spot kicks continue to be awarded at the current rate then there will have been 234 given by the end of the season.

What's more, with the English top flight now using the stricter interpretation of the handball Law, some 73 of those pens are set to have been awarded for handball.

The 2009-10 season saw the Prem record of 106 penalties awarded.

At current rates, that mark would be exceeded by the middle of JANUARY.

And even if referees do scale back on what has been declared in some quarters as a reign of terror, the recent history of other major leagues suggest there is an inevitable pattern.

In 2017-18 there were just six penalties awarded for handball in the Prem, compared to 31 in Serie A, 20 in LaLiga, and 19 in Ligue 1 and (if you scale up from an 18-team league) the same number in the Bundesliga.

That season saw VAR introduced in Germany and Italy, with LaLiga and Ligue 1 adopting it for the following season. The Prem was the last of the Big Five leagues to start using the technology, in 2019-20.

And by last season, with VAR in use across all leagues but the Prem having a much less harsh approach to handball offences, the numbers had spiralled.

While the Prem saw just 19 handball penalties – similar to the adjusted figure of 22 for Germany – Spain saw the number more than double to 48 from 20, while in Italy it went up from 31 to 57.

There were also a staggering total of 186 penalties for all offences in Italy’s top flight and 149 in Spain.

And this season, with 16 spot kicks already given in the Prem – a tally only matched by France – records seem certain to be broken.

The 2009-10 season saw the Prem record of 106 penalties awarded. At current rates, that mark would be exceeded by the middle of JANUARY.

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