The Premier League has rejected a move to five substitutions for the third time, despite mounting pressure from the top flight’s biggest clubs, the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association.
Executives of the 20 top flight clubs met yesterday and again voted down a proposal to increase the number of substitutes that can be used in a match from three to five.
The vote was deadlocked at 10 votes to 10, according to The Sun, which is well short of the 14 -6 majority required for a rule change.
The clubs that voted against the change were Aston Villa, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leicester City, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Guardian correspondent Jamie Jackson revealed on Twitter.
Clubs who voted against 5 subs: A Villa, Burnley, C Palace, Fulham Leicester C, Leeds U, Newcastle U, Sheffield U, West Ham U, Wolverhampton W — jamie jackson (@JamieJackson) December 17, 2020
Manchester City were among the top clubs left disappointed by the vote, with sources labelling it short-sighted, claiming the lack of action does nothing to ease fears over player welfare.
But in a bid to give some encouragement to the Big Six clubs, teams will be allowed to have nine replacements to choose from on the bench.
The issue has bitterly divided Premier League clubs all season, with Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder, a staunch opponent of the change, and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, an enthusiastic supporter, each accusing the other of being “selfish”.
Five substitutions were allowed in the Premier League when matches began again following the national lockdown last season in order to ease the pressure on players as matches came thick and fast.
However, Premier League clubs voted against extending the five subs rule in August and again in September, with each ballot reportedly finishing 11-9 against.
Pressure has mounted for the change in recent weeks as the Professional Footballers’ Association and the FA have come out strongly in favour.
Managers at clubs fighting for relegation claim the move to five subs is unfair, since those with more resources and stronger depth would be allowed to bring on more of their top stars.
“Cards on the table, he’s going to look after his own club,’ Wilder said of Klopp last month. “I’ve got incredible respect for these top managers because they produce top results and win things.
“But they’re selfish, they look after their own clubs. They’re not going to be bothered about Sheffield United, they’re not going to be bothered about England.”
Sportsmail previously reported that managers at Burnley, Sheffield United, Newcastle, Wolves and Aston Villa have spoken against five subs. Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United has not commented, but the club is believed to be against the move.
Of the other 14 managers, 12 were either in favour or said they would go with the change and the final two appeared persuadable if more evidence about player welfare was presented.
However, it has become apparent that club executives may not hold the same views as their managers and coaches.
Klopp insisted in November that a meeting of the managers had resulted in 15 or 16 speaking in favour for five subs.
But at the next Premier League shareholders’ meeting, which is attended by executives and chairmen, no vote was called. And at this one the vote did not come close to approving the change.
The argument in support of the change is that the pre-season preparation was curtailed this term, and the later start of the season has meant more matches in a shorter time, placing more strain on the players.
Klopp admitted prior to Liverpool’s game against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Wednesday that he now felt like the ‘only voice’ pushing for change.
However, he did not use any of the three substitutes he is allowed during the match.
In an explosive interview after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Brighton in November, Klopp told BT Sport: “Chris Wilder or whoever, constantly say I’m selfish. I think all the things show that he’s selfish but that’s not too important.
“(Five subs) is not for tactics, it’s to save the players. It’s for all players. You will it from now on until December. We will see.”
Liverpool have suffered a catalogue of injuries this season with Joe Gomez, Thaigo Alacantara, James Milner, Diogo Jota and Konstantinos Tsimikas all facing lengthy spells in the treatment room, and a clutch of other players missing for short periods due to muscle strains.
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have also been a strong advocate of five substitutes.
The measure to allow nine on the bench was reportedly approved by 16 votes to four and is likely to come into effect from as soon as this weekend. — dailymail.