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Football League back to seven subs


Football League clubs have voted in favour of reintroducing the seven substitutes rule. The changes will take effect as of next season and replace the five man bench seen this season.

The reasons for the change are understandable and they seem to suit both clubs and fans. A seven man bench provides the manager with greater opportunity to change a game and the supporters hopefully have the chance to see more young blood making first team debuts. 

However, there are some drawbacks.

Naming a subs bench of seven may be a simple task which needs little thought for the bigger clubs in the Championship, but drop two tiers to the bottom of League Two and the simplicity is greatly reduced.

It is conceivable that some clubs will struggle to name seven subs due to squad size or financial difficulty. If this is the case then it doesn’t strike fear into your opponents.

Portsmouth had serious problems in fielding a competitive bench of five last season. This is an extreme example but the point is still valid.

The move to revert back to a five man bench was in an effort to reduce costs and many will say that five is more than enough.

Do managers need seven choices? Premier League managers may respond that their multi-national squads need the extra two places to keep players happy and competitive.

But this probably doesn’t hold much sway the further you go down the league pyramid.

Nevertheless it is rare that a decision by the governing bodies of our game is met with such universal praise. In the grand scheme of league football this is a relatively minor change but one that could have huge consequences when the seventh sub comes off the bench in the 90th minute to clinch the league title or relegate a rival.

Of course these are generalisations and the likelihood is that come next May many fans will have forgotten that this decision was made.

Football rules and regulations rarely change so any is likely to generate press interest. But what football fans of all generations want is the introduction of goal-line technology at all levels of the game.

Until then we can rest easy in the knowledge that clubs now have no excuse for not fielding a substitute goalkeeper.

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