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PFA demands five player substitutes and increased benches

The Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) chief executive Gordan Taylor has written to the English Premier League and all 20 of its member clubs, urging them to reintroduce the use of five substitutions in the league, according to The Times.

Managers, including the likes of Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City's Pep Guardiola and Chelsea's Frank Lampard, have openly expressed their concerns for player welfare with a congested Premier League schedule following on from no pre-season, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five substitutes rule was first introduced as one of the measures for Project Restart but was rejected at the beginning of this season when all 20 clubs were required to vote.

The rule is being utilised across all other major European football leagues, which has caused upset amongst managers who have questioned why it has not been used in England's top flight league.

The Times reported that a letter was sent from Taylor, addressed to the Premier League, demanding that benches are increased to include nine players, alongside the reintroduction of five substitutions. The letter was supported by the international players' union, Fifpro.

The letter reads, as according to The Times:

This is now paramount in the interests of player welfare and health and safety and we respectfully request the Premier League board of directors and its executive team to convince all of its member clubs to adopt and ask you to reintroduce the five subs rule with immediate effect. As you are aware, all major competitions and leagues in Europe have adopted the five substitutions rule. That the Premier League has not is entirely anomalous and is inconsistent with its position as a leader in footballing best practice. That competitor leagues have adopted this rule supports our strong view that this is not a matter of big clubs versus small, rather that it is a fundamental issue of player welfare and health and safety. We have been very concerned, and remain so, about the physical load on players who are now frequently required to play every two or three days or so. The physical load on players is therefore hugely increased and the consequent fatigue that players are currently experiencing is leading to avoidable and distressing injuries. I note that Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Leeds United were all impacted by early injuries during last weekend’s fixtures, while a further eleven Premier League clubs have players unavailable due to problems that might reasonably be attributed to physical load and fatigue. Calf, thigh and hamstring injuries (muscle injuries in general) are particularly prevalent among these.”

For the rules to be implemented once again, 14 of the 20 Premier League teams will have to vote in favour, with a vote expected before Christmas, however, reportedly, most teams in the bottom half of the table are still thought to be against the notion.

Author: Jake Wilkin