The Premier League’s ‘big six’ teams will try for a third time to push through changes to the number of substitutes allowed in matches. Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are leading the charge for a shift to five replacements from nine on the bench instead of three from five.
After Project Restart in June, clubs were allowed to make five changes in a match – though teams further down the table argued that it played in favour of their richer rivals with their deeper squads.
And although they have failed to get their wishes in two separate votes at the Premier League Shareholders meetings in August and September, the big six are set to try again as they push for the rule to be introduced.
No date has been agreed for the next meeting but those in favour need to get their number up to 14 to push the change through and have been defeated 9-11 and 7-13 in the last two votes.
But with West Ham having indicated they may be willing to swap sides, pressure is being mounted to try shift opinion elsewhere.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and City manager Pep Guardiola joined forces on the issue and were particularly vocal after their two teams drew 1-1 at the Etihad at the weekend.
Klopp insisted a compacted schedule this season given a late start on September 14, allied to a lack of a proper pre-season, was resulting in player injuries.
Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold sustained a calf issue in the second half of the clash with City.
“In my understanding it is a lack of leadership,” Klopp said. “You go in a meeting and Richard Masters said you want three subs or five subs.
“It is not an advantage, it is a necessity, 100 per cent. In all other countries it happens.
“Richard Masters sold it completely wrong. It is the only big league where you have only three subs. Trent will be out for England.
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“What he has we don’t know. It will not be the only one Gareth [Southgate] has lost. That is really incredible, so we have to talk again.”
Guardiola labelled the mounting injuries as a “disaster” and added: “I will demand, if the people allow my voice, to come back with five substitutions.
“It will help the players, the managers and everywhere to do it. If not it’s difficult to sustain it.”
The PFA has also confirmed it remains in support of allowing clubs to use five substitutes having been in favour since before the first vote.
Klopp and Guardiola’s complaints come after United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer similarly hit out due to concerns over player welfare.
The Red Devils beat Everton 3-1 in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off broadcasted by BT Sport less than 72 hours after losing to Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey in the Champions League.
Luke Shaw succumbed to a hamstring injury at Goodison Park and Solskjaer said post-match: “We were set up to fail. The kick-off time set us up to fail.
“We have been to Turkey, played loads of games this season already, we got back Thursday morning and we are playing Saturday lunchtime, it’s an absolute shambles.”
Liverpool boss Klopp added: “Ole was right. City and us played on Tuesday, so there are always two teams who play Tuesday and two teams who play Wednesday.
“If the Tuesday teams are in contention now for the Saturday early kick off, that’s OK. It’s not nice but it’s OK.
“But the Wednesday teams should not even be in consideration for that game, just not.
“Sky, BT, Premier League, BBC, whoever – they have to talk. We cannot deal with that situation like we always did before. It’s very important the FA has to be involved.
“If we continue like this and hopefully we can play a Euros in the summer, if they happen, let’s see who will be part of that, which players.
“Everybody needs to go on the table. It’s fine we found the solution to play on, that’s great, but now we cannot stop thinking. We have to start thinking new.”
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