Guardiola, Klopp and top clubs fail in bid for five subs as Premier League implements concussion protocol

Leading Premier League managers including Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will not get their wish for five substitutes per game after a fresh proposal was rejected by clubs on Thursday.

Several leading clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal were in favor of changes to the top flight’s rules that would have allowed managers to make five changes per game rather than three. Such a policy has been adopted in numerous other European leagues as well as the Champions League and Europa League.

Liverpool boss Klopp was among its most vociferous proponents and received the backing of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard among others. The Premier League’s top clubs argue that it was paramount for player welfare that they were able to rest players amid a heavy fixture list.

However, other clubs feared that allowing richer rivals with deeper squads to unload their benches in the final minutes of close games could distort the balance of the league. The proposal did not receive the 14 votes required to be enacted. This is the third time in which the proposal has failed.

Some changes were agreed to the league’s substitution policy and this weekend will see benches increase from seven to nine. This will only be enacted for the remainder of the season.

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Thursday’s Premier League meeting also saw a green light for the competition to adopt permanent substitutions in the case of suspected concussion on a trial basis. 

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Football’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), have approved trials for concussion substitutes starting in 2021 and the Premier League hopes to implement them in January.

Teams will now be able to make a permanent change if one of their players suffers a head injury no matter how many of their allocated substitutions they have also made. To maintain competitive balance the opposition will also be able to make a further change.

“With player welfare the Premier League’s priority, clubs agreed in principle to introduce additional permanent concussion substitutions following approval of the trial by the IFAB yesterday,” the Premier League said.

“The trial is a result of IFAB’s consultation with stakeholders and recommendations from their concussion expert group to allow additional substitutions for players with actual or suspected concussion.

“The Premier League will look to implement protocols which will allow a maximum of two concussion substitutes to be used per team, with the opposition side able to use the equivalent number.”

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