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Teams could be allowed five substitutions per game when football returns

PUBLISHED: 11:26 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 28 April 2020

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert wants teams to be allowed to make more substitutions once football returns. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert wants teams to be allowed to make more substitutions once football returns. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Stephen Waller

Teams could be allowed to make up to five substitutions in a game once football returns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The FIFA proposal is designed to help players as they get back to action after a long suspension in the season, and have to play an anticipated higher volume of games in a condensed period as leagues try to finish their campaigns.

The substitutions will be allowed at a maximum of three slots plus the half-time interval to avoid unnecessary stoppages.

The proposal is subject to the approval of the game’s law-making body the International Football Association Board, and it is then at the discretion of individual competitions such as the Premier League or EFL whether or not to implement it.

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“When competitions resume, such competitions are likely to face a congested match calendar with a higher-than-normal frequency of matches played in consecutive weeks,” a FIFA spokesperson said.

“Safety of the players is one of FIFA’s main priority then. One concern in this regard is that the higher-than-normal frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to a resulting player overload.

“In light of this and in light of the unique challenge faced globally in delivering competitions according to the originally foreseen calendar, FIFA proposes that a larger number of substitutions be temporarily allowed at the discretion of the relevant competition organiser.

“In competitions where less than five substitutions are currently allowed, each team would now be given the possibility to use up to five substitutions during the match, with the possibility of an additional substitution remaining during extra time, where relevant.”

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The temporary dispensation on substitutes would apply to competitions which are either due to be completed or start in 2020 or 2021, so it would also apply to the 2020-21 season.

It will also cover all national team matches up to and including December 31, 2021.

The proposal will certainly find favour from Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert, who recently voiced concern that it would be ‘dangerous’ for players to play 90 minutes after the lengthy break in the season.

He said: “The players would normally have six weeks off in the summer before returning to pre-season training.

“We don’t know when training will begin again but it’s going to be well past six weeks. It will be dangerous for players to be asked to go and play 90 minutes of football without a proper ‘pre-season’.

“You can use the squad and play some of the youngsters but they still need a decent time to get match fit.”

Lambert has also called for 11 substitutions to be allowed upon the return to action.

MORE: ‘It will be dangerous to ask footballers to play 90 minutes’ – Lambert on potential return to action without a proper pre-season

Town haven’t played since March 7, with no date as yet for a return. It’s believed early June is being targeted, with players allowed to return to training from May 16. The Blues have eight games left to play in League One.


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