Harrogate Town welcomes 'sensible' EFL decision on five substitutions rule

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has welcomed the Football League's decision to re-introduce the rule which allows teams to make five substitutions per game.
Harrogate Town defender warms-up. Pictures: Getty ImagesHarrogate Town defender warms-up. Pictures: Getty Images
Harrogate Town defender warms-up. Pictures: Getty Images

The EFL has broken ranks with the Premier League and will allow its clubs to make two extra changes in League Two fixtures from this weekend until at least the end of February.

Town, who visit Leyton Orient on Saturday, have already played 19 matches in a season which is not yet 11 weeks old.

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As well as league games, they have also participated in the FA and League Cups, the EFL Trophy and a fixture carried over from last term’s FA Trophy.

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.

"I don't think it's a bad thing to happen at the moment because of the amount of games we're playing back-to-back," Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"The schedule has been very busy and this will give teams a better chance of limiting fatigue, limiting injuries, so it's a positive decision.

"It's sensible. There have certainly been a couple of times this season when we would have liked the option to have been able to bring another player off late on because they were looking jaded.

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"We could have used eight substitutions at half-time on Saturday [against Crawley], the performance was that bad.

"In all seriousness, it's a good move and I think it also give the lads on the substitutes' bench more encouragement because there's a better chance of them getting on."

A temporary change to the ruling on the number of permitted substitutions was made at the end of last season for Premier League, Championship and lower-league play-off fixtures to guard against injuries because of the concentration of matches after a long coronavirus-enforced lay-off.

Most major leagues in Europe have continued it this season after being allowed to do so by Fifa, but the English have resisted.

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A shorter summer break, quicker-than-normal pre-season and truncated season have been followed by a spate of injuries.

For Football League clubs – particularly those in Leagues One and Two who do not automatically take international breaks off – the schedule is unrelenting all season.

The Football League has now changed its rules to allow Championship clubs to name a 20-man matchday squad, whilst those in Leagues One and Two will still be limited to 18, but all can bring on five players in a league game.

As in the resumed season, teams are limited to three in-play windows, plus half-time, to make changes, so they will have to make multiple substitutions during at least one of those opportunities to bring all five replacements on.

These new rule changes apply immediately, and will be reviewed on February 28.