Each team are now officially allowed to make five substitutions per the new laws of the game.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) confirmed the new rule, which was first suggested by FIFA to help players and clubs cope with any extra fatigue which will come from the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rule 3 is the ruling which relates to substitutions and the key part of this is that teams are only able to make subs at certain parts of the game so the flow of the game isn’t broken up.
Here’s a look at the temporary changes to Rule 3, which has now come into place:
- A maximum of five substitutes are allowed per team, per game
- To avoid disruption, each team will have a maximum of three opportunities to make subs during the game and also at half time
- If both teams make a sub at the same time, this will count as one of the three opportunities for each team
- Unused subs and opportunities are carried forward into extra time in cup competitions
- Where competition rules allows it, teams will be allowed an extra sub in extra time. The sub can be made before extra time starts or at half time of extra time
With training and games interrupted and teams now close to returning across the globe and being asked to play games over a short period of time to complete the 2019-20 season, this rule change is more of a temporary measure.
FIFA have also ruled that VAR can be stopped midseason if leagues no longer have the resources to use it. The Premier League is not expected to stop using VAR midseason.
“In relation to competitions in which the video assistant referee system is implemented, these competitions are permitted to cease its use upon restart at the discretion of each individual competition organizer.”
As for the five sub rule, it is allowed to be used in competitions which were due to finish by December 31, 2020 and it is expected to be extended to cover the 2020-21 seasons too.
In La Liga, matchday squads will also increase from 18 to 23 so that managers have more options to choose from when it comes to substitutes, and there will be two water breaks per match.
Who will benefit from this? Other than the players who will have their workloads lessened, it is clear the big boys with deeper squads will benefit from this rule change.
If you have 25 international players and all of a sudden you get to use 16 of them per game, the overall quality of your play remains high. As for teams lower down in say the Premier League, some squads may be forced to giving plenty of young academy players minutes in the final nine weeks of the 2019-20 season.
I want to believe that teams will be able to use these substitutions correctly but the cynic in me says that this could lead to games being disrupted even more than they already are with players saying they have an injury and subs then being used outside of one of the substitution windows. There seems to be a loophole here.
It is a temporary fix, so that’s fine, but having five subs would not be good for the game, long term.