When the Premier League set the dates for the new season, it came with confirmation that after having been allowed five substitutions at the end of 2019-20 as teams played out the coronavirus-hit season behind closed doors, it would be back to three for 2020-21.
However, due to pressure from a number of clubs behind the scenes, the league is now reconsidering this stance and will make a final decision on the matter later this week—with Liverpool and manager Jürgen Klopp strongly in favour of continuing with five substitutes.
“We have 38 Premier League games in a four weeks’ shorter season,” Klopp noted. “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 other teams see it differently.
“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. But it’s all about how can we get through this season. Not ‘oh that’s a little advantage here.’”
Thirty-eight games. Plus Europe. Plus two domestic cups. Plus international breaks. Even with the FA Cup scrapping replays, there is a risk teams going deep in Europe and both cups won’t have enough match weeks to complete the season even playing twice a week.
The bigger clubs might be slightly advantaged at times—though they will also be facing more fixtures than other clubs—but having five substitutes available could be integral to being able to complete the season safely, and Klopp is right to champion the change.
“It’s never about having an advantage,” he added. “I saw it last season when we played the last nine games. Getting 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.”