EFL vote to allow clubs to make five subs per match starting on Friday

EFL vote to allow clubs to make five subs per match starting on Friday when Coventry play Birmingham… putting pressure on Premier League to perform U-turn amid concerns over the health and safety of players

  • EFL have brought back the five substitution rule used after Project Restart
  • Coventry’s clash vs Birmingham will be the first match where rule will be in place
  • The move by the EFL has added increasing pressure on the Premier League
  • A spate of injuries has led to fears stars are being burnt out amid hectic schedule

The EFL have granted clubs to use five substitutions per match amid the hectic schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will put increasing pressure on the Premier League to perform a similar U-turn as the clamour grows for the rule to be reintroduced for health and safety reasons following a recent spate of injuries. 

The five-sub rule will first be used in the EFL again when Coventry take on Birmingham in the Championship on Friday night at St Andrew’s.

EFL clubs will be able to make five substitutions per match starting from this Friday

The five-substitute rule was introduced for Project Restart amid the coronavirus pandemic for player welfare but clubs voted to revert back to three changes ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. 

But Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola have recently both made their feelings known on the substitutions rule.

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.

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 to name up to seven substitutes in their matchday squad, again with five permitted to take to the pitch.

Both manager’s complained that the decision to reduce subs to three again was partly responsible for the spate of muscular injuries witnessed in the Premier League.

The Liverpool boss noted a ‘lack of leadership’ within the top flight, while City’s manager glibly suggested the league’s product was more important than player safety. 

Klopp, who is suffering an injury crisis in defence – with Trent Alexander-Arnold one of those on the sidelines after suffering a calf strain against City – demanded the Premier League to rethink the three subs rule, before backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s complaints over television scheduling.

‘We have to talk again,’ he said. ‘You go in a meeting with all the different teams and Richard Masters says “what do we think, do you want five or three subs?”

‘Richard Masters sold it completely wrong, is my understanding. It’s the only big league with only three subs. Big surprise! It’s a lack of leadership… If 14 teams do not agree that five subs should happen then at least let the top six sub five times when we play each other.

There is pressure on the Premier League to return to five subs after a spate of muscle injuries

‘Ole was right. Everyone needs to get round a table. Sky, BT, BBC, whoever. They have to talk. You cannot keep the players fit.’

Meanwhile, Guardiola said: ‘This league likes to be different. I don’t understand how the Premier League understand the situation.’

‘It’s déjà vu,’ Guardiola sighed. ‘When I was a young lad, reading the news from England, I remember reading Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez complaining about the same thing.

‘I don’t have any optimistic solution. The TVs have to decide. I don’t think the situation will change. They cannot come together because each one looks for himself, his own business.

‘My business is to protect my players. They are exhausted. LeBron James won the NBA title and now he is on holiday for one or two months. Our guys had eight days. It’s games, games, games, because TV decided to do it. OK.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have teamed up to complain about player safety recently

‘It’s just the same as the old period. It doesn’t matter how important the mangers were then and it is the same now. Maybe Alexander-Arnold is out for a month or one and a half months for that reason. National team in England, now you don’t play without an exceptional right back.’ 

And now with pressure growing on the English top-flight to reverse their decision, the Premier League are braced to discuss the subject at the next shareholders’ meeting despite Richard Masters originally ruling out a return to five subs. 

Masters, giving evidence at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, recently revealed clubs had voted against bringing back five subs twice already and did not expect it to be changed from three any time soon. 

‘We have had two votes on it at club level and both have been relatively supportive of three subs,’ he said.

‘That has created some frustration, alongside discussions of fixture scheduling, which is related to the pandemic. There is a real issue and I don’t foresee it changing in the foreseeable future. It has been voted on twice.’ 

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