Richard Masters, the Premier League CEO, was heavily criticised by Jurgen Klopp at the weekend for not enforcing the five-subs rule and instead putting it to a vote of the 20 clubs.
Every other major league in world football has adopted five subs for the season, given the truncated nature of it due to COVID-19 and the added fixture congestion.
In short, it’s a no-brainer, but instead of simply telling clubs this season would include five subs – it was put to a vote – which the smaller clubs rejected – as they believe it would give the bigger sides an advantage due to their larger squads.
But when the bigger clubs are competing in Europe and have their entire squads used for international breaks, players are dropping likes flies.
Liverpool already have 14 injuries this season, with Joe Gomez the latest to likely be ruled out for the entire season.
“There is an argument to be made that five substitutes change the competitive balance of the football match, versus the very real issues about player welfare,” Masters told Goal. “I think it’s a finely balanced argument.
“We’ve had two votes on it at club level and both have been relatively conclusively supportive of three subs – ie, returning to that model, which has been the historic one.
“That has created some frustration in the system, which you are seeing, alongside discussions about the fixture scheduling, which again is a pandemic-related issue.
“So you can see why it is an issue for debate, particularly if you are, in Jurgen and Pep’s case, competing in Europe.”
Masters added: “It is busier and it’s also coupled with the fact that we ended the season at the end of July and not the end of May, and the normal rest periods haven’t been taken into account.
“So there’s a real issue there and it has been discussed at length. I don’t foresee it changing in the foreseeable future.”
Klopp is right to be angry about the situation – and given Liverpool’s current injury situation – he’s sadly being proved right.
The players are being treated like puppets by football’s governing bodies. They are athletes whose bodies we rely on for entertainment – but we won’t see much of them his season if they’re pushed to the max as has so far been the case.