Jurgen Klopp Reiterates Importance of Five Subs Rule to Protect Players

Nov 20, 2020, 12:00 PM GMT
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp has been fighting for five substitutions per game | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stressed once more that pushing for five substitutions in Premier League games is not so that the bigger clubs with larger squads can gain an advantage, reiterating the importance of protecting players against injuries.

The 2020/21 season started a month later than originally planned because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the previous campaign. But it is still scheduled to finish on time and no games have been cut from the calendar, putting additional strain on every player.

Five substitutions were permitted in the Premier League during ‘Project Restart’ in June and July, but the English top flight returned to allowing just three this season. That is despite the temporary rule change being extended for 2020/21 and every other major competition continuing it.

The majority of Premier League clubs have twice voted it down, with Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend claiming in a radio interview last week that it ‘un-evens the playing field’.

But all the major supporters of increasing substitutions back to five have looked at it from the perspective of player safeguarding. Now, it is back on the agenda and finally seems likely to pass.

“This now is a season which is four weeks shorter but with the same amount of games. This is a very special time, not only for football but for the whole world,” Klopp told the Daily Mail.

Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane
The Premier League voted to return to three subs for this season | Pool/Getty Images

“It looks like the whole world changed but the two things which stayed were the fixture list of the Premier League and three subs,” he added.

“Before the season, some people thought it would be an advantage for us, the people who said we should stick to five substitutions. But it was never — and I can promise you this, I’m a Christian — it was not for one second about having an advantage.

“All the other countries did it. Italy - Juventus, Inter Milan, they have the biggest squads, but still the other clubs said, ‘We need five subs.’

“Yesterday six [Premier League] managers changed their minds. We need it. For the players, not the clubs. December and January in a normal season is brutal. We know that. But this year, for the Champions League and Europa League clubs, October is like December. November is like December. December is still December, then January, then February.”

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