REPORT: Premier League Substitutions Could be Increased for Season Restart

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LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 26: Premier League ball during the Leicester City training session at Belvoir Drive Training Complex on May 26th, 2020 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

More Premier League substitutes are being considered by the clubs ahead of the league’s restart on June 17.  With fears over the increased risk of injuries to players from lack of preparation and the match schedule, plus the potential for losing players to positive tests for COVID-19, more substitutions could be at the manager’s disposal.

Premier League Clubs Consider Two Additional Subs

The proposal to the Premier League clubs is for a temporary increase in permitted substitutions. The ruling would see clubs allowed five substitutions instead of three. This would be permissible as FIFA has already accepted this change following its proposal by the game’s rule-making organisation, IFAB.

To prevent slowing the game down, teams would have just three opportunities to make any changes. Therefore at least one change would require more than one substitution if the manager wants to use all five. However, Chelsea also believe this can be taken a step further, as reported by the Telegraph.

Seven players are allowed to sit on the bench currently. Chelsea propose this should be increased to nine. Clubs may accept this if they have already agreed to increase the number of permitted substitutions to five. Yet five players from seven should still be ample. It is doubtful manager’s will want to make the full five changes unless absolutely necessary to avoid disrupting the team’s rhythm.

Not all Premier League Clubs Will Agree

There will undoubtedly be dissenting voices from some clubs over these proposals. Purists will baulk at changing the rules during a season, believing it will damage the competition’s integrity. Brighton and Hove Albion’s Graham Potter is one manager who has expressed concern at the proposals for more subs. Potter is quoted as saying, “I think as soon as you start to change the rules regarding substitutions, it becomes different to what we started in the first place.”

Clubs without the resources of the bigger clubs will also feel it gives even more of an advantage to those with larger squads. Teams who work extra on fitness levels and take pride in their achievements may also feel it would penalise them to some extent. Yet, ultimately this will be about player safety and reducing the potential for serious injury.

Not the Only Change Proposed

A multi-ball system could be introduced for the season restart as well as more substitutions. This seems a sensible way to prevent potentially lengthy stoppages in play when the ball is despatched into empty stands. However, one or two dissenting voices occur here too. One argument is such breaks will help give players more recovery time in matches during a hectic schedule. A hot summer would strengthen their argument over the dangers of additional fatigue and injury.

Proposals will need to be debated and ironed out ahead of 17 June. Approval of any proposal needs the votes of 14 of the 20 clubs. To most fans, these will seem trivial points as we just want our game back. For managers and their staff who plan every game to the minutest of detail, they could be crucial.

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