November 10 – The English Premier League, the only major top-flight division in Europe to reject the concept of five substitutes, may stage a u-turn before the end of the season.
Reports suggest a growing number of managers are becoming disgruntled at continuing to be allowed to use only three replacements even though five were initially permitted when last season’s curtailed campaign resumed.
Leading managers believe the current limit is contributing to injury problems.
The proposal has twice failed to secure the 14-club majority needed to be adopted for the 2020-21 season despite the very same clubs voting in favour during the final two months of the delayed 2019-20 campaign.
Smaller clubs argue five subs would favour bigger teams with stronger squads but it is now being suggested the idea could be brought back.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and West Ham boss David Moyes, who was initially against it, are among those who want five.
Moyes told the BBC last week: “I recommended that we would vote for three substitutes but I have looked at it again due to the player welfare issue. I really didn’t expect so many injuries. No parties have been willing to give anything up in terms of competitions or matches.”
Klopp spoke out after his defender Trent Alexander-Arnold was injured in Sunday’s high-profile fixture against City.
“It is not an advantage, it is a necessity,” he fumed. “In all other countries it happens. It is the only big league where you have only three subs.”
Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of the international players’ union FIFPro, could not understand why the Premier League had voted against five subs when he spoke before the start of the new season.
“It’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t harm football one bit in terms of the sporting sense,” he said. “We understand that some clubs are raising concerns about competitive balance but to be honest that problem is so much bigger than a couple of extra substitutions.”
“The Premier League is arguably the most competitive league across Europe in terms of the depth of teams performing. It should be one of the least concerned leagues in my opinion when it comes to that (issue), compared to many others who have accepted the rule.”
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