How IFAB Decision On Five Substitutions Rule Will Affect Smaller Teams

After introducing the five substitutions rule this season due to concern over the fitness of players post lockdown, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have confirmed that the rule will be allowed next season if competitions desire it to be.

IFAB Confirm That Five Substitutions Rule Will Run Until 2021

IFAB Statement 

IFAB released the following statement on the matter: “Following the decision taken on 8 May 2020 to give competitions scheduled to be completed in 2020 the option of allowing teams to use up to five substitutions, The IFAB Board of Directors had agreed the option.

“On the basis of this in-depth review based on stakeholder feedback, the analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on completion calenders, The IFAB Board of Directors has approved to extend the option to competitions scheduled to be completed by 31 July 2021 and international competitions scheduled in July/August 2021.”

They added: “The main reason for the temporary amendment to Law 3- The Players was the impact on player welfare of competitions being played in a condensed period and in different weather conditions. The recent review has shown that the reasons for the temporary amendment remain valid and the impact on player welfare is likely to continue into 2021.”

A Disadvantage for Smaller Clubs 

The rule change has already been hit with immense criticism by many with small clubs clearly at a disadvantage. While the likes of Manchester City bring on a whole new batch of world-class players, teams like Burnley are just about filling the bench.

It gives those near the top a huge advantage when coming up against lesser oppositions. City, for example, could be heading for a 1-1 draw with ten minutes to go, but suddenly introduce a fresh and firing Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Phil Foden and İlkay Gündoğan all at the same time to play against a tiring team. 

Did IFAB Need to Make the Decision?

The rule from a competition standpoint doesn’t make sense and leaves the lesser clubs completely hindered. The rule was introduced to protect the players in the summer conditions and to help ease players back in after three months without match fitness. 

Ahead of next season, however, players will be fitter than ever due to the lack of break between the end of this campaign and the start of next. Therefore, they should be more than capable of seeing out a full 90 minutes, and clubs should be able to handle that 90 minutes with the usual three substitutions at their disposal.

The rule is certainly something the Premier League needs to consider, taking in all the factors before making a decision on whether to implement it or not.


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