New five subs rule profits Premier League bosses on opening weekend


Premier League clubs used the new five-substitute rule to their advantage to help secure victories on the opening day of the season.

Newcastle United, Tottenham, Southampton and Chelsea were the only top-flight teams to make all five changes, with all but Saints going on to pick up three points.

Eddie Howe used all of his changes during three separate stoppages in the last 10 minutes as the Magpies saw out a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest.

Clubs are only allowed to make substitutions in three breaks in play in an attempt to stop clubs exploiting the rule to waste time.

All five of Thomas Tuchel’s changes came after the hour mark as Chelsea protected their slender lead against Everton courtesy of Jorginho’s penalty in first-half stoppage time.

Spurs’ quadruple change took so long that final substitute Matt Doherty was clocked as coming on a minute later than his other three team-mates.

It is not the first time Spurs boss Antonio Conte has made four substitutions at once in a game, though, having done so against Mura in the Europa Conference League.

‘I think five substitutes is a good thing,’ says The Mail on Sunday columnist Danny Murphy. ‘I think it will enhance the quality of matches and protect the players. We should not be falling behind the other leagues in Europe.

‘It’s the responsibility of the officials to make sure teams do not exploit it and to make sure they are adding on the right time.’

Premier League clubs had long resisted the chance to bring the five-sub rule back permanently, which they had utilised when football returned following their hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic. Their argument was that it would give the top clubs such as Manchester City and Liverpool even greater advantage with the chance to utilise their stronger, deeper squads.

‘It’s absolutely not true that it gives us an advantage,’ said Jurgen Klopp in February. ‘I can’t believe it is still discussed like this.’

The other major leagues in Europe continued to use five subs when given the option by football’s lawmakers after the pandemic, yet the majority of Premier League sides chose to return to a maximum of just three substitutes.

However, this summer they finally voted in favour to fall into line with La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga.


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