Premier League clubs face pressure from their doctors to lobby for five substitutions per match

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Premier League clubs face pressure from their doctors to lobby for five substitutions per match as player welfare concerns mount following a spate of injuries with more managers now in favour

  • Premier League clubs were able to make five substitutions during Project Restart
  • FIFA gave top-flight sides the option of sticking with five subs but they declined  
  • However, injury and player burnout concerns have led to doctors speaking out

Premier League clubs are facing pressure from within their own medical departments to pave the way for five substitutions.

The issue of player welfare has come back to the fore following a spate of injuries, which has increased calls for a return to allowing five substitutions.

Clubs were allowed to make five changes when last season restarted after the coronavirus shutdown. 

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are two of the bosses most opposed to only using three subs

And although FIFA allowed the emergency measure to continue this season, clubs voted for the Premier League to revert to just three changes.

That decision leaves the Premier League as the only major division in Europe not to extend the five substitutions rule.

But the spate of muscular injuries and increasing concerns over player burnout has led to extensive discussions between technical and medical departments at clubs, with a growing number of staff now recommending that they should lobby for a re-introduction of the rule.

 

Crucially, medics from clubs who originally voted against five replacements at the start of the season are now understood to be pushing the merits of it. 

Most clubs outside the Big Six were previously against five changes because they were concerned it gave an advantage to teams with stronger squads.

But a number of the managers who had previously rejected the proposals are now said to have changed their mind following talks with their medical teams.

Richard Masters seemed to rule out a return to the Project Restart limit of five subs per team

Richard Masters seemed to rule out a return to the Project Restart limit of five subs per team

If the matter is again taken to a vote, the Premier League requires 14 clubs to support a proposal to make the rule change.

Speaking a fortnight ago, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters appeared to rule out five substitutions, saying: ‘We have had two votes on it at club level and both have been relatively supportive of three subs.

‘That has created some frustration, alongside discussions of fixture scheduling, which is related to the pandemic.

The EFL reintroduced five subs and there is growing pressure on the top flight to follow suit

The EFL reintroduced five subs and there is growing pressure on the top flight to follow suit

‘There is a real issue and I don’t foresee it changing in the foreseeable future.’

But since then, the EFL have agreed to reintroduce five substitutions, having started the season with three, and there appears to be growing support from top-flight clubs to change, too.

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