Premier League clubs are facing a row over whether to carry on with the increased number of substitutes permitted during Project Restart into next season, with football lawmakers – International Football Association Board (IFAB) set to extend the provision to cover the whole of the 2020-21 campaign.
Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Bournemouth and West Ham all voted against the temporary change when it was debated at a Premier League shareholders’ meeting last month on the grounds that it would give an advantage to bigger clubs with deeper squads, a fear that has been borne out by results since the resumption.
Villa manager, Dean Smith and Blades boss, Chris Wilder, have been particularly critical of the rule change in recent weeks, as has Burnley’s Sean Dyche, and many of the smaller clubs will strongly argue against making it permanent.
The issue is likely to be raised informally at Thursday’s club meeting which will largely focus on next season’s fixture list, although a vote on the subject is not planned at this stage.
IFAB’s expected decision to permit the use of five substitutions is not prescriptive, and individual leagues will be allowed to choose whether to adopt the new regulation.
The rationale for extending the rule is that players are likely to be tired given the short turnaround between seasons and and therefore more susceptible to injury.