Masters: Three subs rule here to stay despite manager frustration


remier League chief executive Richard Masters has dismissed the prospect of reintroducing five substitutes despite growing pressure from managers.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has criticised Masters for “lack of leadership” over refusing to change the rule to allow five substitutes.

Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have also voiced concerns over player welfare amid the busy fixture list caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But clubs had voted against it twice already and Masters, speaking to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday, does not expect the rule to change.

“We have had two votes on it at club level and both have been relatively supportive of three subs,” he said.

“That has created some frustration, alongside discussions of fixture scheduling, which is related to the pandemic. There is a real issue and I don’t foresee it changing in the foreseeable future. It has been voted on twice.”


Both Klopp and Guardiola complained about the issue after Sunday’s meeting 

/ Getty Images )

Most of the support for five substitutes is thought to come from the ‘Big Six’ clubs with bigger squads, but votes from at least 14 clubs are required for the rule to change.

Masters said: “It is another issue that has been thrown up by the pandemic. We went to five substitutes during Project Restart because of the long lay-off and playing 92 games in short order, and there was clearly a case to be made for the continuation of that. Most European leagues have done that.  

“There is an argument to be made that five substitutes changes the competitive balance of a football match versus the very real issues about player welfare. I think it is a finely balanced argument.  

“We have had two votes on it at club level, both have been relatively conclusively supportive of three subs, i.e. returning to that model which has been historical. That has created some frustration which you are seeing, alongside discussions about fixture scheduling which is a pandemic-related issue.”

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