|    July 21st, 2021

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

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Once the current football season ends there are certainly lessons to be learnt from the temporary rule changes that were introduced as part of Project Restart.

The drinks break has proven to be more about a coaching opportunity than refreshments. In the case of Thomas Frank at Brentford he produced a tactics board on the side of the pitch during one such break. I understand the concerns around the hydration of players in hot weather conditions, but the breaks have served only to slow the momentum of matches and I believe it is an experiment that should now be confined to the bin.

The introduction of five substitutes arose from the short lead in time to the re-start of the current season and with the objective of reducing the number of injuries and particularly muscle related injuries and to that extent it has proven successful. Going forward however it is a change that will definitely benefit the bigger clubs who are able to finance the biggest squads. I would like to see five substitutes named but two of them must be under-21 players. This would, I believe, give a huge boost to the academy system and development of young players in this country going forward.

I think we have seen through the re-start period how vital fans are to the national game and I know discussions are in progress about how limited numbers of fans might return safely in October. It looks increasingly as though only season ticket holders or registered members will be allowed in initially with families allowed to sit together but with strict social distancing measures in place. The kiosk facilities on concourses which are often packed with fans will not be allowed to open as before.

Perhaps most importantly as soon as the season ends, we are likely to see a raft of statements from the EFL about a number of investigations that have been taking place into some of the best-known Championship clubs. I suspect a number will receive points deductions and it will as ever be the fans who suffer most. Indeed, you now have fans of one club wishing points deductions on another. Players and staff at clubs move on but the fans are always there to support their team and the EFL must find a way of punishing those involved in misconduct with the harshest penalties. Nobody should be allowed to run a club without first being approved by the EFL both in a financial and in a fit and proper person context and clubs who abuse the Financial Fair Play rules are cheating – plain and simple. Any club official who cloaks the wrongdoing of owners should be subject to the harshest disciplinary sanctions.

This is not the time for people in authority to congratulate themselves on a job well done. It is time for the issues blighting our national game to be addressed and resolved.

Peter Varney – Chairman Integral Sports Management

For more information about Integral Sports Management contact enquiries@integralsportsmanagement.co.uk

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