One of the ways football changed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic was to increase matchday squads from 18 (11+7) to 20 (11+9), and allow two extra substitutes to be used (5, up from 3), while keeping the number of stoppages allowed for substitutions to just 3 (not including the half-time break). Most would agree that this was a beneficial change, to help reduce injuries in a congested schedule after a three-month break.
Unfortunately, even though FIFA and IFAB have extended their guidance regarding the increased number of substitutions allowed to cover the 2020-21 season as well, the Premier League have decided to not follow those and revert back to using just three substitutes from the seven named.
This was confirmed at the league’s AGM last month, but was put up for vote once again in this week’s meeting, after the league announced a schedule that barely deviates from the norm engendering high-profile support from the likes of Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp.
“I know the discussion will go again that it’s an advantage for the bigger clubs. I don’t discuss it from that point of view. I don’t want to have an advantage in the competition.
“We have 38 Premier League games in a four weeks’ shorter season. That says it all. And all the other competitions will be pretty much the same as far as I know. That means just that these things would help.
“But I can imagine that other teams see it differently. But it’s never for having an advantage. I saw it last season as well when we played the last nine games. But it’s all about how can we get through this season. Not ‘oh that’s a little advantage here’. Getting in a good way through the season for the sake of the football players and the performance levels, I think it would make sense. But I don’t make the decisions.”
-Jürgen Klopp; source: Mirror
Alas, as reported by Sky Sports, the motion did not gain the required 14 votes, and so the Premier League will revert back to using just three substitutes, which is dumb.
The game’s natural evolution will eventually cause the league to change to using five substitutes, but that day is not today.