After Manchester United scored an offside goal against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, PGMOL have issued clarification on the offside rule to try and stop further incidents happening in the future.

During the game, United lined up for a freekick on the edge of the Shrewsbury box. Three United players positioned themselves in an offside position directly in front of the keeper with the aim of blocking his view.

As the freekick taker ran up to the ball, the trio attempted to get back onside but failed.

The goal stood.

[Freekick analysis at 4:51]

A statement on the Premier League website this week said “The Premier League has this week written to its clubs to provide guidance regarding the offside law. The guidance is in relation to players standing in an offside position when a free-kick is taken.

“Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) issued this guidance to clear up misunderstandings that arose following the goal awarded to Manchester United in their FA Cup fifth-round tie against Shrewsbury Town on Monday night.”

“The statement continued “In situations where an attacking player adopts an offside position for a clear tactical purpose, and then remains in an offside position when the ball is last touched/played by a team-mate, they “run the risk” of being penalised for interfering with an opponent, if they:

  • a) clearly obstruct the line of vision of an opponent
  • or b) make an obvious action that clearly impacts the ability of an opponent to play the ball.

“In the FA Cup match between Shrewsbury Town and Manchester United, Juan Mata, the United No 8, is preparing to take a free-kick while three team-mates (Nos 35, 21 and 9) clearly move into an offside position and remain positioned side-by-side, in effect creating a “wall”.

“It is evident that the three players’ position has a clear tactical purpose.

“When Mata takes the free-kick all three players remain in an offside position and make a clear movement towards the edge of the penalty area.

“In determining “tactical purpose”, match officials should consider the following physical evidence:

  • Proximity and position of the attacking player(s) in an offside position relative to the opponent (usually the goalkeeper)
  • Obvious action (including movement) of the attacking player(s) in an offside position”

They also included nice little screenshots to highlight their points before concluding “In the situation of the Mata goal in Shrewsbury v Man Utd, the three United players (Nos 35, 21 and 9) position themselves between the ball and the goalkeeper.

“No 21 also looks directly at the goalkeeper when establishing the position of three attacking players. This emphasises tactical purpose.

“As the free-kick is taken, the three all make a clear movement (or “obvious action”), whichclearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball (see Figure 2).

“In this, and similar situations, the attacking player(s) in an offside position would be expected to be penalised for interfering with an opponent.”

So, that should be that cleared up, right?

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You know what else would help clear these things up when it actually matters? Video evidence in the ground.