EFL backs return of 5 subs rule as fixtures and injury fears mount

November 19 – The English Football League (EFL) has voted to re-instate the five-substitute rule across all its three divisions from this Friday, heaping pressure on the Premier League to follow suit.

The game’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board, announced in July that the temporary regulation would be extended into 2020/21 – but that it would be up to individual competitions whether or not they adopted it.

The Premier League is the only top-flight league among Europe’s ‘Big Five’ footballing nations to dispense with five subs and revert back to three thanks to its smaller clubs stubbornly refusing to back continuing with the initiative.

The issue was voted on twice before start of the campaign – on both occasions clubs voted in favour of three subs. Any club can propose a change, at any time, but it requires the support of 14 to pass the proposal.

Lower league English clubs clearly see the sense in five replacements, given the unprecedented fixture congestion.

“Following consultation with clubs, the EFL board has agreed to increase the permitted number of substitutes to five in all Sky Bet EFL fixtures taking place from 12 noon on Friday 20 November for the remainder of the 2020/21 season,” a statement said.

“Regulation 33.4 has been amended to permit Championship clubs to name up to nine substitutes in their matchday squad, with five permitted to take to the pitch in any fixture.

“League One and League Two clubs can name up to seven substitutes in their match day squad, again with five permitted to take to the pitch.”

Several managers have bemoaned the current Premier League rule and even England manager Gareth Southgate has got in on the act.

“We were able to make five changes against Belgium – we made four in the end – and clubs don’t have that option,” Southgate said following the recent Nations League clash.

“What will it take for that to change? There were a couple of less serious injuries against Belgium but what do we do? Wait until we get a load of really nasty ones?”

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