At the end of a 2019-20 Premier League season that had been put on hold by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Premier League followed along with the rest of Europe’s top competitions by allowing teams to make five substitutes instead of three.
In 2020-21 and 2021-22, though, they did not. While the rest of the big European leagues and the Champions League continued with five subs, the vote in England didn’t reach the threshold required to continue with a number of bottom half clubs voting against.
Next season, though, the Premier League will embrace what appears set to become a permanent change in football by allowing five changes, with the five substitutes allowed to be made across three occasions as well as at the half.
The bottom half clubs that previously voted against the rule change had cited the potential for competitive advantage for the league’s richer sides, but with the ever increasing fixture load most see five subs as a key player health and safety issue.
“It’s not about an advantage, it’s about the game,” was Jürgen Klopp’s take on the matter earlier this month. “You wold keep the players in a better place, you would get much less injuries definitely over the year, so we will see if we finally introduce it.”
Fortunately, it appears enough others have agreed that the fixture load has increased the chance of injury and negatively impacting the game by exhausting the players—and short of playing fewer games, more substitutions is the best solution.