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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30678

Law 1- The Field 8/20/2016

RE: Adult

Terence Farrell of Manchester, England asks...

Last season I attended a match at Manchester United.At half-time as the teams left the pitch,the sprinklers were turned on in the penalty area that the away team would be defending.So my question is once the game has started can the home team alter the playing surface in this way.
I have noticed this happening at Old Trafford again this season!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Terence
This generally is covered by a competition rule and the principle is that a team cannot be unfair when it comes to altering the playing surface. Even the length of grass is regulated as is the size of the FOP. The Premier League has a specific rule to deal with pitch watering which states and I quote
* the Home Club may water the pitch at half time provided that it gives reasonable notice to the referee and the other Club that it intends to do so and that any such watering is carried out evenly over the entire length and width of the pitch; *
This is what applies to the Champions League in its competition rule book.
* The pitch watering schedule must be communicated by the home club at the matchday organisational meeting. The pitch must be watered evenly and not only in certain areas. As a general rule, pitch watering must finish 60 minutes before kick-off. However, upon decision of the home club, pitch watering may also take place after that time, provided it takes place: a. between 10 and 5 minutes before kick-off, and/or b. during half-time (for a maximum of 5 minutes). The referee is entitled to request changes to the schedule.*
So as you describe can be contrary to the PL rule. I am unsure what the sanction is and if it is just a monetary fine plus a warning if reported or whether it is dealt with by the referee on the day by requesting all areas to be watered equally. It can also depend on the attitude of the opponents. If the opponents do not complain to the referee he may let it slide. Good teams might see it as assisting in their defensive passing as much as the attackers do.

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