The Premier League has finally fallen in line with the rest of European club football and agreed to allow its teams to make five substitutions in a match.
A meeting of the league’s 20 clubs agreed to adopt the Fifa law, first drafted as an emergency pandemic measure but now made permanent, after rejecting it on three previous occasions.
The change, which will come into effect from next season, allows each side to name a bench of nine substitutes from which five can be selected. Players can be introduced on up to three different occasions during the match, as well as at half-time.
The vote resolves an internal dispute which saw smaller clubs pitted against those with bigger squads, with the former generally believing the change benefited the latter. However after a winter in which most teams were forced to play with squads ravaged by Covid and injury, there was this time a majority sufficient to pass the measure.
Speaking on Thursday Graham Potter made the case for extra substitutes. The Brighton manager was against making the change when it was first authorised but said the brief experience of using the rule during Project Restart in 2020 was positive.
“I enjoyed it as a coach when we first had it,” he said. “It could be an exciting addition. It brings a bit more hope and opportunity to everyone in the squad.”
In another change confirmed at the shareholders’ meeting, the Premier League is to drop compulsory twice-weekly testing for Covid. From 4 April, testing will be required only on players or staff who are symptomatic. The news comes despite the backdrop of an ongoing wave of Covid-19 across the country. The league said on Monday that in its most recent round of tests, between 21 and 27 March, 1,388 players and staff had been tested for Covid and that there had been 22 new positive results.
The Premier League also said the summer transfer window would open on 10 June and close at 11pm on 1 September.