Five substitute option rule to continue until end of summer 2021

Wed, Jul 15 2020

A fourth official holds up the substitute board during a League of Ireland fixture in March 2020. Credit: Larry McQuillan (ETPhotos)

Fifa have given permission for the continuation of the temporary five substitutes rule to continue for another 12 months.

At present many of the major leagues around the world have adopted a rule option that Fifa introduced in May, to allow for clubs to make up to five changes per game due to the increased pressure being put on players bodies due to the condensed ending to many of their seasons brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With many leagues set to not end for another few weeks and therefore the expected start of the 2020/2021 season being pushed back to later in the autumn, it has been decided by the world governing body that the option to continue to operate with five substitutes will continue until the end of July 2021.

These five substitutes, must however, continue to only be used during three substitution windows so as to not delay the game too long.

It remains to be seen if these rules will be adopted by leagues, or if indeed Uefa will choose to use them during their flagship Euro 2020 (or 2021) tournament due take place next summer.

League of Ireland squad size

There is a discussion in other leagues that the rule switch will favour clubs with larger squads. Looking at the League of Ireland Premier Division last season, St. Patrick’s Athletic (22) and Sligo Rovers (23) had the fewest numbers of players starting in the league while Finn Harps (31), UCD (31) and Cork City (36) used the largest number of players. St. Pat’s (12), Bohemians (18), Waterford (18) used the fewest number of players as substitutes.

For the top flight in Ireland so far this season, the most players with starts are at Bohs (20), St. Patrick’s Athletic (18) and Shamrock Rovers (18), while Dundalk, Sligo and Waterford have all used the fewest (14).

IFAB

The IFAB is the body who decide and agree changes to the laws of football. The organisation is made up of the football associations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and FIFA. Passing any rules amendments requires a three-quarters majority. The UK football associations have four votes with FIFA having four votes. 

Additional reporting by Macdara Ferris