Preston North End boss Alex Neil wants rule on substitutes changed

Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes the ruling to revert to the three-substitute rule was a financial decision and not a footballing one.

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 4:45 pm

When games resumed in June after the first lockdown, teams were able to name nine substitutes on the bench and use five of them.

For this season, clubs voted in the summer to go back to the old system of using three subs from a seven-strong bench.

Managers have started to speak up on the subject due to a higher number of injuries being picked up during what is a crowded fixture list.

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North End boss Alex Neil

Neil has added his voice to the argument, saying a bit more flexibility would have been useful during the run of Saturday/midweek football.

The idea of the extra subs for the restart was to reduce the workload of players when the remaining games were squashed into a short spell.

FIFA granted permission for 20-man squads and five subs being used to be extended into this season.

However, it was left to the individual leagues to decide on the way forward.

Neil said: “I have heard Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talk about this and Pep Guardiola talk about it.

“To put that amount of games in and take the five-sub rule away so you can’t utilise more of your squad and make sure you can minimise injuries, is certainly not a footballing decision.

“You need to protect players because they are the most important thing.

“Without the players the rest of it doesn’t work.

“Everyone wants to see the best players playing often and the way to do that is by having the extra subs to freshen it up a bit more and sub people off to make sure they don’t get injured, or you play less often.

“We can’t play less often because of the timescales we have got but we could have given ourselves a hand by making sure we have got more subs.

“It probably boils down to the fact the clubs in the league don’t want to pay the extra bonus for two players, which I think is ridiculous.

“Every other top division – Germany, Spain, Italy – they all do it.

“They make sure the best players are playing most often by giving the teams more chance to freshen it up.”

There was a great deal of resistance to extending the extra substitutes rule into this season, clubs of the view it benefited the bigger clubs with the greater depth to their squads.

The mid-September start to the season due to late finish of 2019/20, has meant more midweek games.

North End have played the last three Wednesdays, and after the international break there are four rounds of midweek fixtures.

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