News   |    March 28th, 2022

SUBSTITUTE TRADE OFF

In the time I was involved in Premier League meetings the biggest clubs were regularly seeking to re-balance the distribution of broadcast revenues to secure a greater slice of the pie and this was regularly resisted by 14 clubs (the required number). Additionally the top clubs wanted to change the substitutes rule to increase the number of substitutes that could be used in a game. Again the majority of clubs felt that gave a competitive advantage to the top clubs who generally had the larger squads. My counter proposal at the time was that the number of substitutes could be increased by 2 if the two additional players were young players under 21. Every time I proposed it it was summarily rejected.

In the light of the success of Liverpool and Manchester City in all competitions this season, the issue is now about to raise its’ head again. If you look at the next few weeks Manchester City host Liverpool in the Premier League on 10th April and the two teams then meet again at Wembley in the FA Cup Semi Final on 16th April. On 5th and 13th April Liverpool play Benfica in their Champions League Quarter Final ties and on 5th and 13th April Manchester City play their Champions League Quarter Final ties against Atletico Madrid.This is a particularly tough schedule and I understand why in these circumstances both clubs want their options from the bench increased for the appropriate games. It certainly worked well for Liverpool in their recent FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest.

There is no doubt that a move from 3 to 5 substitutes will benefit the top clubs and if it is to be agreed then in my view it needs to be tied to other issues. Top of that list should be an unequivocal commitment from the so called Big Six clubs that there are to be no future formal or informal discussions regarding a European Super League. There must be no further future attempts to change the formula for distributing broadcast revenues. The importance of the League Cup competition to EFL Clubs also requires a renewed commitment from the top clubs to that competition.

The top clubs benefit significantly in financial terms from playing in Europe and if the concession on substitutes is to be made there needs to be a precise quid pro quo arrangement. The top clubs need to remember that without their fellow Premier League clubs there is not the level of revenue from the best league in the world to make the top clubs what they are and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

(Image: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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