Skip to content

Five substitutions per team permitted by IFAB to help aid players' return

Competitions also permitted to drop VAR mid-season; Premier League not expected to do so

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky's Bryan Swanson has the latest on the rule changes that allow teams to make five substitutions per match to help them cope with returning from football's coronavirus-enforced break, and the possibility of dropping VAR

Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions per match after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) made a temporary amendment to football's laws to cope with returning from the coronavirus-enforced break.

FIFA proposed the rule change to IFAB, which is responsible for the laws of the game, as players are likely to be asked to play matches in a condensed period of time during the summer months.

Teams will be limited to three opportunities during matches to make their substitutions - as well as half-time - in a bid to prevent unnecessary stoppages.

In competitions where extra-time could be enforced, any unused substitutions will be allowed to be carried over.

The rule change is immediate, but it is up to individual competitions whether they wish to adopt it. It could be in use in the Bundesliga, which is scheduled to resume behind closed doors on May 16.

Premier League officials are discussing VAR despite the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19
Image: The Premier League is not expected to stop using VAR, despite IFAB allowing competitions to drop the technology

Meanwhile, La Liga and the Spanish Federation have agreed on the temporary use of five subs for the remainder of the season, which plans to restart in June after clubs returned to training this week.

IFAB says the amendment currently applies to competitions that are scheduled to finish before the end of the year, and a review will be conducted at a "later stage" over whether to carry the rule into next season.

Also See:

In addition, IFAB has tweaked its rules around VAR to allow competitions that were using the technology to stop doing so, if and when they resume their seasons.

The Premier League will discuss the rule changes with its clubs, although it has received no indication that they wish to cease using VAR.

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher's view...

"I can fully understand it. In the current climate the players have been out for a long time. It's a wise decision and a decision everyone will appreciate.

"We are in strange times, there is no doubt about that. Whatever they decide will be for the betterment of football and getting the game played.

"The priority is to get a resumption. Once we decide it's safe to play - because that's what it's got to be, safe for players, for the officials and everyone at the stadium - everything else will have to fall into place.

"Regarding five substitutes instead of three, if we have to make small changes to get the games played that's how it will be."

Analysis: Swift decision across world football

By Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News...

Football lawmakers have moved at pace to approve a fundamental change to the game.

The introduction of up to five substitutes in normal time may not please everybody, with concerns over timewasting, but let's not forget the reason this has been rushed through.

It is to support clubs at a time of crisis, and to try to help reduce the risk of player injury as some leagues plan for a return of more games over a shorter period of time.

Will we now see five substitutes in Premier League games? It will be for clubs to discuss and approve, most likely at one of their meetings later this month.

This decision is unprecedented during a season and a review over whether to extend these rules later next season will only take place 'at a later stage'.

Phil Foden takes on Brandon Williams
Image: The Premier League are hoping to resume matches behind closed doors in June

The fact VAR can be dropped mid-season is likely to generate plenty of headlines.

It will now be for Premier League clubs to discuss, but there has been no indication so far that VAR won't be used for the remainder of the season.

It would raise serious questions if they decided to change such a key part of the game during the same season.

The footballing community is doing its best to work together at a time of an international crisis.

FIFA will be pleased their proposal has been approved and lawmakers IFAB have long shaken off their historical image of being stuck in the past.

This is the kind of swift decision-making, at scale, the game needs.

It affects every game in every competition in every country.

Football faces enormous challenges, in an unpredictable landscape, but it is doing what it can as it prepares for the future, when it is safe to do so.

Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet
Join Sky Bet Club and track your progress towards a £5 free Bet

Opt in and bet £25 or more before 23:59 on Sunday. Free bets credited by 7pm on Monday.

Around Sky