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Glossary: A-C

View a glossary of related terms. This page features terms beginning with the letters A-C.

a.e.t. or aet
The abbreviation for ‘after extra-time’. There is no extra-time in Barclays Premier League matches but you may well see this next to a scoreline for a cup match.

When a match is unable to complete its full 90 minutes. Possible reasons include adverse weather conditions or crowd trouble. The match will be played in full at a later date.

There are two meanings. Firstly, when a team is winning, they are said to have the ‘advantage’. The other meaning concerns the referee – if he decides not to give a team a free-kick for a foul and instead lets them continue to play on, he is giving them the ‘advantage’.

This is used to signify a draw, either by using the score – as in, it is two-all, or without the score, as in, it is all-square. Commentators also like to say there is ‘all to play for’ at key stages of the match.

An all-seater stadium has a seat for every spectator. Due to safety issues, it has been compulsory for a Barclays Barclays Premier League stadium to be all-seater since the 1994-95 season.


This means you cannot buy a ticket for the match in question on the day, you need to have bought one before. No tickets will be on sale at the ground on matchday, something that happens to try and prevent trouble outside the ground.


A player playing in a match is said to have made an ‘appearance’. As in, ‘he made 25 appearances for Arsenal last season’.

Not professional. There are thousands of amateur clubs playing below Football League level in England.

Artificial surface
In the 1980s, some professional football clubs installed synthetic (or artificial) surfaces, which also became known as ‘plastic pitches’. QPR and Luton had them in the top division in England before the Football Association banned them in 1988.

Association football
This is the sport’s original name and was used to distinguish ‘football’ or ‘soccer’ from other forms of football, specifically ‘rugby football’ (rugby). The laws of football were formalised by the Football Association, hence the first part of the name.


A player who sets up a goal for his team-mate is usually given the reward of earning an ‘assist’. So, the winger who crosses for the striker to head in, or the midfielder who plays a pass that is converted, both get an assist. This is a relatively recent development in English football. Where appropriate, only one assist is awarded per goal.

Assistant referee

This is the name given to the two officials who help the referee make decisions during the match. They stand just outside the marking of the touchline and preside over half of the pitch each, running up and down the line to keep up with play. Their main job is to give offside decisions as they are tasked with being in line for such calls, but they can give fouls and aid the referee with anything they have seen. They were called ‘linesmen’ and ‘lineswomen’ until 1996.

When a team is trying to score a goal and are well inside the opposition’s half, they are said to be on the ‘attack’. Many teams are set up to ‘attack’, which means they might have many ‘attack-minded’ players. Attack, according to one of football’s oldest clichés, is the best form of ‘defence’.

The number of people inside a football stadium makes up the attendance. England’s biggest club ground is Manchester United’s Old Trafford, which can hold 75,957 spectators.

If your team is not playing at home, they are playing away. It is considered much harder to win away than at home, in part due to the fact that the home team always has a much higher proportion of fans inside the stadium.

Away goals rule
This is a method of separating teams who have to play each other twice (home and away) in a cup competition. So, if Team A beats Team B 2-1 at home, but then loses 1-0 away, it is Team B that will win overall, even though the score over the two legs is 2-2. This is because Team B scored once away, whereas both of Team A’s goals came at home. This does not occur in the Premier League.

A flamboyant act on a football pitch, the backheel is a kick made with the back of a player’s foot, designed to surprise and confuse the opposition. It looks relatively easy to pull off, but can be embarrassing when it goes wrong.

A player who passes the ball back to his goalkeeper is said to have played a ‘backpass’. In 1992, the backpass rule came into force to discourage time-wasting after the 1990 World Cup. Before 1992, a goalkeeper could pick the ball up after an intentional backpass from one of his team-mates. Now he cannot – and if he does he will concede a free-kick should. The goalkeeper is also not allowed to pick the ball up directly from a throw-in taken by one of his team-mates.

See 'Crossbar'

This is what some of the non-playing staff at a club sit on during the match. Normally, you will find the manager, assistant manager, coaches, physio and the substitutes – the players who did not start the match but can be brought on to the field during it. In the Barclays Premier League these days, most Clubs have upgraded from an actual bench to comfy seats, but the term remains in use.

Bicycle kick
This is one of the most difficult techniques to execute in football. With the ball in the air above the player and his back to goal, he must lift himself off the ground, with one leg going away from goal and one striking the ball, both legs perpendicular to the ground. The leg action imitates the actions of a pair of scissors, hence why it is sometimes called a ‘scissors kick’ as well as an ‘overhead kick’.

The referee will ‘book’ a player if they are deemed to have committed a foul worthy of a yellow card, or ‘booking’. Two bookings – two yellow cards – equal a red card, whereby the player is sent from the field of play for the remainder of the match. A booking can also be called a ‘caution’.


Football boots are what players wear on their feet during matches. They are made from leather and modern boots – complete with studs, to help with grip – are not actually ‘boots’ in the true sense of the word, as they do not cover the ankle.

There are four boxes on a football field, two at either end. There is the six-yard box, and the 18-yard box, which is also called the ‘penalty area’, because if a foul is committed against the attacking team inside it, they win a penalty. The six-yard box starts six yards away from each goalpost and finishes six yards in front of the goalline. This is the goal area. Goalkeepers are allowed to handle the ball anywhere inside their 18-yard box, which starts 18 yards away from each goalpost and finishes 18 yards away from the goalline. Inside the 18-yard box is the penalty spot, which is where penalties are taken from, 12 yards away from the goalline.

A player who specialises in both attacking and defending and who will, 99% of the time play in midfield, will sometimes be called a ‘box-to-box’ player. This player will, at one moment, be seen making a tackle inside his own penalty area, and then, in some moments later, be taking a shot in the opposition’s penalty area.

This is another name for the part of the goalline that is outside the goalposts, which runs to the end of the pitch where it meets the touchline. So a winger’s task will often be to get to the byeline and deliver a cross in to the penalty area.

A ‘capacity crowd’ is one where the ground hosting the match has sold all of the tickets and is full. If you are asked for the capacity of a football stadium, you are being asked how many people that stadium can hold for a match.


Whereas players make an ‘appearance’ at club level, when they play for their country they are said to win ‘caps’. So, ‘XX has been capped 10 times by England’, or ‘XX has won 10 England caps’. This term goes back to the practice in the UK of awarding a cap to every player in an international football match.

The leader of a team on the pitch. One player out of the starting XI will be chosen as captain, or ‘skipper’. Often this will be an experienced player, who can help out his younger team-mates, and most captains wear an ‘armband’ to signify their position. The captain must take part in the toss of the coin to decide who kicks off and who plays towards which end at the start of the match, and if the behaviour of a team is deemed inappropriate during the match, the referee may take the captain to one side and ask him to talk to his colleagues.

There are two cards available for the referee to use in football – yellow and red. The yellow card is sometimes called a ‘booking’ or a ‘caution’ and is brandished by the official to warn the player that he must be careful for the remainder of the match. A red card is the accumulation of two yellows, or a player can receive a straight red card for a very serious infringement, at which point he must leave the field of play immediately.

See 'Booking'

Central defender
This is the term for a player who plays in the centre of the team’s defence, and whose principal task is to stop the opposition from scoring a goal. Also known as ‘centre-back’ or ‘centre-half’.


This is the circle in the middle part of the pitch, 10 yards away from the centre-spot – which marks the exact centre of the field. Whenever the match restarts (either at the beginning of a half or after a goal), all the players bar those taking part in the kick-off must be outside the centre-circle.

Centre spot
The mark in the centre of the football pitch.

Clean sheet
The principal task of a goalkeeper and his defence during the match is to prevent the opposition from scoring a goal. If they succeed in doing this after 90 minutes, they have kept a ‘clean sheet’. Also known as a ‘shutout’.

When a team is defending and they manage to relieve some of the pressure they are under, it is often because they have managed to ‘clear their lines’ – and this can be attributed to a ‘clearance’ by one of their players. The term is also used to describe what happens when a goalkeeper launches the ball from his own penalty area into the opposition’s half.

Another name for a football team, encompassing the entire staff, both playing and non-playing. Many have the word ‘club’ in their full name – for example, Manchester United Football Club (MUFC).


In England, the word ‘coach’ is used to describe a member of the management team who deals specifically with coaching the players, ie a member of the ‘coaching staff’. There are position-specific coaches, like goalkeeper coach and striker coach. In other countries, the word coach is used to describe the manager of a team, but this is purely a semantic difference.

Coin toss
The coin is tossed by the referee before kick-off, in the presence of the two captains. The away team captain will call either heads or tails, and whoever wins the toss can either choose to kick towards a certain end in the first half, or choose for their team to take the first kick-off. In cup matches, which sometimes go to penalties, there will be another coin toss with the two captains to determine at which end of the ground the penalty kicks will take place.

Competitive matches
A Barlcays Barclays Premier League match, for example, is a competitive match. Before the football season starts, clubs play ‘friendly’ matches, which are not competitive and are used to practise before the competitive matches begin. At international level, when England play a qualifying match for a tournament, that is a competitive match, but outside of those they arrange friendlies with other countries.

Corner flag

There are four flags which are placed in the ground in the four corners of the pitch. This is where corner kicks are taken from.

Corner kick
If a defending player has the final touch before the ball goes over the byeline, the attacking team wins a corner kick. They take this on the side the ball went out, from the corner of the pitch where the flag is – and there is also a one-yard arc, which goes from byeline to touchline, where the ball has to be placed before a corner kick is taken. The defending players must be at least 10 yards away from the ball.


A cross is the term used to describe a ball played in to the penalty area by an attacking player from a wide position on the pitch. So, if a winger gets to the byeline and has team-mates inside the penalty area, he will be encouraged to ‘cross’ the ball in order to find a team-mate and create a goal-scoring chance. A cross is an effective way of trying to score a goal.

This is the top of the frame of the goal, the horizontal bar placed across two vertical posts eight feet (2.44 metres) above the ground and eight yards (7.32 metres) wide. Goal frames are usually white and made of wood, though they can be made from metal, too.

Cup tie
The Barclays Premier League is a league competition, where every team plays each other twice, at home and away. In England, there is also the FA Cup and the League Cup, which are knockout tournaments and include teams from lower leagues. A match in one of these competitions is called a ‘cup tie’.

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