Chelsea have a submitted a formal request to increase the number of players available on the substitutes bench, from seven to nine, as the rest of the 2019-20 Premier League season is played out. According to the Daily Mail, the proposal will go up for vote on Thursday, in this week’s meeting of the league and teams.
FIFA and IFAB have already approved the temporary increase of the number of substitutes teams are allowed to use in a 90-minute match, from three to five, although they’re leaving it up to each individual league whether to accept and enact that change. Most leagues that have restarted so far, including the Bundesliga, have been using the increased allowance. The Bundesliga have had a 9-man bench since the start of the season. (Meanwhile, UEFA have been allowing 12 substitutes since last season, while the Italian Serie A have been doing so since 2012!)
Increasing the number of players on the bench shouldn’t be a drastic change, especially if the Premier League approves the use of five substitutes — which they should, given the concerns over fitness and injuries in the congested fixture list ahead. Presumably that vote will happen shortly as well.
It would be a nice idea to make the larger bench a permanent rule change as well. (The rules of the game have been trending in that direction for decades, slowly increasing the numbers of bench players and substitutes allowed, since the very first one in 1958.)