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Premier League clubs reject five substitutes for third time but approve concussion replacements

Premier League clubs reject reintroduction of five substitutes per match at shareholders' meeting on Thursday; permanent concussion substitutions have been approved by the clubs, and managers can now name nine players on bench, up from seven

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SSN Chief Reporter Bryan Swanson reflects on the Premier League clubs voting against five substitutions for a third time

Premier League clubs have voted against allowing teams to make five substitutions per match for a third time at a shareholders' meeting on Thursday.

A number of managers have called for the top flight to adopt the change, with Jurgen Klopp calling it a "necessity" and Pep Guardiola labelling the current three substitute limit a "disaster".

The Premier League is currently the only major league in Europe not to have kept the five substitute limit that was introduced when domestic football resumed towards the end of last season.

The proposal was previously voted down twice before the 2020/21 campaign began and has again failed to meet the threshold of 14 votes in favour at a meeting of the 20 clubs.

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However, teams will be permitted to name nine players on the bench, up from the previous seven, from this weekend.

PL clubs approve concussion substitutes

While they chose to reject the five substitute proposal, the Premier League clubs have voted in principle to introduce permanent concussion substitutions.

Teams will be able to use up to two additional replacements per game if players are suspecting of sustaining, or diagnosed with, a concussion.

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The move comes after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - which governs the laws of the game - approved the rule change on a trial basis on Wednesday.

The Premier League will now apply to IFAB to take part in the trial, which begins next month.

'We want it for player welfare'

The Football Association is also in favour of implementing concussions substitutes and says it will bring them into its competitions "at the earliest practical opportunity".

On Wednesday, the FA had said it would prefer the Premier League following other leagues by introducing five substitutes, after announcing five subs would be permitted from the FA Cup.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "The reason we want it [five substitutes] in the competition is the reason most other leagues around the world have applied it. That is, for player welfare.

"We recognise it's been a short pre-season, we recognise we're in a very congested season now and we feel it's appropriate to have the ability to have five substitutes and we'll be applying that to our competition.

"Would we prefer it if the Premier League brought in five subs? Yes, we would prefer it."

Paul Pogba comes on as a substitute for Manchester United at Tottenham
Image: The maximum number of Premier League substitutions will remain at three

The Premier League has rejected a move from three to five substitutes on two previous occasions.

The English top flight is the only top division in Europe not to have implemented the protocol for the 2020/21 season, and revert to the use of three replacement players per team during competitive league games.

The temporary allowance of teams to bring on five substitutes during a match was initially given the go-ahead by FIFA in April following the coronavirus outbreak, and Premier League clubs were able to do this during Project Restart.

Criticism was levelled at the Premier League from a host of top flight managers, including Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard earlier this season, who cited player welfare when calling for the reintroduction of the five-substitute rule.

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