Premier League clubs voted in favour of reintroducing the use of five substitutes per game from the start of the 2022-23 season at a shareholder meeting, the organisation said on Thursday.
The substitutions can be made on three occasions during a game, not including halftime, and clubs can name nine substitutes in total on their team sheet, the league said in a statement.
Top-flight clubs were allowed to increase the number of substitutes from three to five per match in the 2019-20 campaign when the league restarted in June after a three-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soccer’s law-making body, IFAB, had recommended making the rule permanent, but the Premier League was the only top league in Europe to decide against continuing five substitutes from 2020-21 even as a number of managers voiced concerns about player fatigue.
The Professional Footballers’ Association backed the league’s latest decision, with chief executive Maheta Molango saying the increasing workload on players is damaging their health and wellbeing.
“The adoption of this rule is a welcome step forward in what needs to be an ongoing effort to address issues with player fatigue, making sure they have the opportunity to perform at their best,” Molango said in a statement.
The Premier League added that it would stop twice-weekly COVID-19 testing of players and staff from Monday, with only symptomatic individuals to be tested.
“The wellbeing of players and staff remains a priority and the Premier League will continue to monitor the national COVID-19 situation and adapt League-wide protocols as required, in line with the latest guidance from public health authorities and medical experts,” the statement said.
The Premier League also said the summer transfer window will open on June 10 and close on Sept. 1.
Ahead of their teams’ Premier League matchup on Saturday, the managers of Leeds United and Southampton spoke out in favor of reintroducing the rule.
“It helps the game. Makes games faster and more intensive,” Leeds boss Jesse Marsch told reporters. “More playing time for the players. I came from a situation where two years I was working with five subs. Back to three makes me feel handcuffed. Hard to be as aggressive before. Better teams have better rosters, but they also have a better XI. I like, with the way we play, more fresh players on the pitch than fewer.”
Added Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “There’s no surprise, we’ve spoken a lot of times about it. For us, I think [five substitutes] will be a game-changer, it’s very intense the way we play.
“It helps, definitely. There are some arguments from the small clubs [saying] not to do it because of the sporting difference we have with the biggest clubs, but I always see it as an advantage for us.”