The five substitute rule that was implemented when elite level football returned after the enforced break could make a return. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is backing the re-introduction of the rule, feeling it can help to protect players.
Mikel Arteta Backs Return of Five Substitute Rule
A Temporary Measure
The rule helped clubs and players after the enforced break due to Coronavirus to manage fitness and wellbeing. This was all done as part of guidelines for Project Restart. FIFA chose to continue with the rule until the summer of 2021 but some Premier League Clubs voted against the rule remaining in place for the new season.
Mikel Arteta was not one of those against the idea. He feels that clubs have a duty to protect players more than ever at this time, as reported in the Evening Standard:
“We have to be conscious that we have to protect them and we are constantly exposing them, we’ve had no holidays, they are going to play international football every time there’s an international break, there’s a competition [the Euros] this summer and it goes on and on and on.”
Despite Premier League players being considered some of the fittest sportsmen there are, the amount of fixtures and proximity to other players is causing concern among some.
Mikel Arteta is Not Alone
The Arsenal manager is not alone in his views. Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard have all expressed concern at only being allowed to use three substitutes.
When the voting took place before the 2020/21 season, it was clubs who tend be lower down the league that voted against the five sub rule. West Ham United manager David Moyes has said that some clubs were worried that five subs would give bigger clubs with bigger squads an advantage.
He said: “When we were making the decision, the clubs lower down did think the bigger teams would get an advantage from it.”
Players are playing games more frequently and injuries are therefore more likely. Allowing players more time to recover would reduce injuries and also allow clubs to manage the situation closely with COVID-19 not hoping away anytime soon.
No date has been set for a review of the five substitute rule but with Mikel Arteta joining the ever louder voices, the Premier League and FA will need to listen and so consider the option.
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