The Premier League has voted to revert to three substitutions per team per game for the 2020-21 season, one of several changes coming from Thursday meetings.
Traditionalists have won out after the PL returned for Project Restart with an unusual five subs rule.
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There was seemingly minimal change to the art of the game, at least less so than the once-per-half water breaks that allowed coaches the chance to impart in-half tactical instructions to their squads.
It was one of several changes.
Back to three subs
The subs rule was changed for Project Restart as the unprecedented fixture congestion demanded a lot out of pandemic-affected clubs.
Opponents of keeping five subs said it would favor deeper, richer squads, while proponents acknowledged the opportunity to get younger players more time on the pitch. The Premier League announced Thursday that 62 homegrown players debuted this past season, up 21 from the 2018-19 season.
One good thing about the decision is that we won’t have to hear pundits complain about a change that affected the games minimally aside from the chance for more players to get time on the pitch. The less hand-wringing, the better.
That said, the minimal nature of the change is also an argument to go back to the system that’s been in place for ages.
As expected, Video Assistant Referee’s roller coaster season has led to changes for the 2020-21 campaign.
VAR was rolled out to much success early, but became increasingly difficult to understand later in the season.
Control is being handed back to the on-field referee, which was suggested but not always followed in the second half of the PL campaign.
There are also changes in goalkeeper and player actions during penalty kicks, and offside rules are largely staying the same.
Here’s what’s new, via PremierLeague.com:
- Referee Review Area (RRA): Increased use of the RRA, which will be used for subjective decisions in the three key areas – goals, red cards and penalty kicks
- Goalkeeper encroachment on penalty kicks: The protocol does not allow for tolerance levels, so if the goalkeeper saves a penalty and his foot is over the line then VAR will advise it is retaken. If the goalkeeper is off his line and the ball hits the post or goes over, it won’t be retaken unless the ‘keeper has a material impact on the kick being missed
- Player encroachment on penalty kicks: It is now judged on any part of a player’s body that is on the ground when the kick is taken. So if any part of the foot is on the penalty area or arc line it is encroachment. The player must still have a material impact on the outcome of the kick
- Offsides: The protocol does not allow for tolerance levels.
- Keeping the flag down for tight marginal offside offences: When an immediate goalscoring opportunity is likely to occur, the assistant referee will keep their flag down until the passage of play is completed. Once the goalscoring opportunity is complete, either a goal is scored or the chance is gone, the assistant will then raise the flag to indicate the initial offence. If a goal is scored the VAR will then review the offside judgement