Premier League clubs reject chance to continue with five substitutions


Premier League sides will return to the old normal next season after it was confirmed they will no longer be allowed to make five substitutions during a match.

A temporary measure introduced to help prevent injury during matches delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the rule was renewed by Fifa for the duration of the 2020-21 season.

Leagues are free to determine whether to introduce the measure and at the Premier League’s AGM on Thursday clubs voted overwhelmingly against it. They will return to making a maximum of three substitutes from a bench of seven players.

The five-substitutes rule was widely perceived to favour bigger clubs with deeper squads. The use of drinks breaks during each half is another measure that will not feature next season.

The 20 shareholders – which for the first time included the promoted sides Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham – held preliminary discussions over a plan for curtailment should the necessity arise in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The league also confirmed that it would fully implement Fifa’s VAR protocols from next season. The controversial technology had been used differently in England to a number of other countries, including a recommendation that referees should not use their pitchside monitors.

Clubs voted unanimously for the protocols, meaning that there will be increased use of monitors and a more consistently punitive approach to goalkeepers moving off their line when facing a penalty.

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Implementing the Fifa rules means no “tolerance levels” for offside, ending hopes that referees may be able to use their judgment in the case of hairline decisions. Fifa is researching the possibility of introducing more leeway, which would favour the attacker, into the offside rule.

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After a long period of intensive and frequent meetings, the Premier League is now not scheduled to gather until September. The full calendar for the 2020-21 season has yet to be agreed but all clubs have consented to the principle of a minimum 30-day break which will likely determine the date when clubs competing in European matches this month will return to action next season.



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