The rule of five to keep players alive: clubs plead to reinstate five sub rule

The Premier League’s biggest sides have forces in a bid to pressure the FA to allow them to make up to five substitutions per game. This has come after many players returned home from the international breaks with injuries and Covid-19.

The Premier League was the only major league in Europe to scrap the five subs rule this season, with teams only allowed to make a maximum of three subs per game.

Before the conclusion of November’s international break, Premier League clubs have twice voted against increasing from three substitutes, with a majority of them believing such a change would benefit only the “richer sides”. A total of 14 teams, a two-thirds majority, is needed to make the change.

The English Football League (EFL), English football’s second, third and fourth-tiers, reinstated the use of five subs on Wednesday.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is leading the fight to reinstate the five substitution rule back in the Premier League. In a recent press conference, he stated the importance and urgency in which the five substitution rule needs to be reinstated. This came after their big summer signing Thomas Partey picked up a thigh injury leaving him out of their next trip to Leeds on the weekend.

Partey’s injury is the least of Arteta’s troubles. The international break saw youngster Bukayo Saka play 230 minutes within six days for England. Manager Gareth Southgate defended his choice to use the winger calling him a “special player,” adding the side needed Saka to help deal with the injury of left-back Ben Chilwell.

The traditional ‘big six’ are not the only ones who voted for this rule to come back. Several Premier League managers have spoken publicly in favour of five substitutes, including Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl and West Ham’s David Moyes.

One Brighton fan, John, told Voice of London: “My team Brighton are currently sitting 16th in the table without a win in our last five games. Already being in a bad position, the thought of allowing all teams to make five subs just doesn’t seem fair to me.

“We haven’t got the firepower to put ourselves in the top half of the table and with the calibre of players the big six have, it wouldn’t seem fair at all to allow them to make five subs.”

Joeseph, an Arsenal fan, said: “At this point, I think the rule would benefit everyone. Injuries are a big problem at the moment with all clubs suffering this same loss. As a result of the international break, we have lost many players due to Covid, injuries and fatigue. The five sub-rule will give our players the opportunity to rest more, an aspect of the game which is scarce at the moment”.

Nick, a Man City fan, added: “I know the firepower we have in the club. Pep has done well in building squad depth meaning anyone of our players can be a first-team player. With saying that, it would be unfair to bring back the five subs rule due to the handicap it will introduce. Also when it was introduced last season, our manager barely used five subs every game.

The Premier League is soon to move into its annual winter fixtures pile up, a time when clubs usually suffer their biggest losses with such a large amount of games needed to be completed in a small time frame.

The question that still needs answering ‘Should the Fa reinstate the ‘five substitutions’ rule?

Words: Michael Patcha | Subbing: Connor O’Halloran

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