More Money, Less Shocks: The Five Subs Rule Is Terrible For The Premier League

Another move to empower the rich in the top flight
08:00, 01 Apr 2022

The Premier League has made a U-turn on their decision to rule out the use of five substitutions per match as it is confirmed to return from 2022-23 and it will only spell more hardship for those who do not have the finances or squad depth of the big six and other big spenders.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has constantly moaned about the congested fixture schedule, calling on five substitutions to be permitted so that he can allow players to rest and recuperate, but by allowing the big boys to bring on two more multi-million pound signings against a team such as Burnley, there becomes a clear disadvantage for the smaller clubs. 

It will only extend the already gargantuan gap between the top and the bottom of the top-flight even further.

It’s far too late to say that the growth of financial investment in the game is having a negative impact on sporting integrity because as we have seen with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle United’s recent controversial takeover, the governing bodies still permitted the sales despite obvious concerns. With five substitutes instead of three, the financial impact will become increasingly significant on the pitch as the rich flood their squads with superstars. 

There has been a sad shift of power in recent years and as always the fans are the ones who suffer for it, like when teams who reach the FA Cup final have their allocations reduced to make room for all the sponsors and corporate clients, who in most cases won’t even have an interest in the game. They seem to be more interested in the food and drink on offer than the football on show.

The growing issue on the pitch is the financial dominance that the big clubs have in the game. Their history and marketable assets attract the biggest business tycoons in the world - or sometimes even entire states - who are able to sanction multi-million pound deals for new players as if they were spending their pocket money in a sweet shop. Whereas the clubs who don’t have as much financial muscle, will spend in one season what Manchester City or Liverpool will spend on one marquee signing. 

Great detail has always been paid to the cost of the players Pep Guardiola has on his bench and it in most cases costs well over £100 million in total. The thought of having two more of their superstars being able to come on in a league game against a Norwich or a Burnley, is beyond unfair. It's a joke and it is only going to get worse if these changes continue, until football becomes the shadow of what it was created to be and just a business market.

It is understandable to see the call for an extra two substitutions given the hectic schedule that some clubs have, but when Premier League bosses open their eyes and take a look at what happens in the EFL - where the Saturday, Tuesday pattern is common - they’ll see it’s more than manageable. 

They’ll say that they have more competitions to play in, but the simple answer is you’re a professional coach, you work it out. In the past managers had to make do with just one or two players on the bench, and that was part of the challenge for squads. 

The game is built on ushering in the next generation. The likes of Chelsea and Liverpool have extraordinary academies and there are always going to be youngsters not only ready but hungry to make an impact in the first team. The managers need only look in-house for players to come in and make up the numbers if a key player needs a rest. 

This is a worrying move. The introduction of five substitutions will only benefit the rich and it could end up being another nail in the coffin of football, as the financial side of the game continues to spiral out of control.

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