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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Let's go back to three subs

 23 Comments: First  |  Last

Getting away from the negative approach to the Man City game for a minute, and focussing on the financial inequality in the Premier League.... Clearly this is something the authorities care not a jot about. There is a very simple solution after all: revert back to only being allowed to name 3 substitutes. If this rule was brought back in, it'd bring a lot more competition back. Clubs like United, Chelsea, City, Tottenham would be unable to keep a squad of 25 top class players happy; Squad sizes would be reduced and there would be more focus on bringing youth players through as clearly they wouldn't be throwing a strop when not selected.

It would also actually bring the tactical ability of the managers into play a lot more; making sure they name the 3 substitutes who they feel before the match are most suited for the game. As opposed to seeing how a game is panning out as they do at the moment, and then selecting a substitute from 7 options.

What is the reason teams need to name 7 substitutes anyway? Is this something the elite voted for to maintain their grip on the status quo, allowing them to select 1 from 7 of their megastar substitutes as opposed to having to actually think tactically and pick 1 from 3?

Reducing the number of substitutes a team can nominate would make things more exciting for the fans and level the playing field for those clubs, like Everton, who only have small squads.

Just a thought.

Robbie Riddal, Liverpool     Posted 24/09/2011 at

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Nick Entwistle
1   Posted 24/09/2011 at 21:20:46

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At what point is a fairer playing field going to benefit the EPL?
So long as all the Asians are happy supporting the usual suspects, reducing their advantage will be a no go. Expect lucrative contracts to reduce if the interest in the big teams waned by being usurped by upstart smaller teams.
Adam Carey
2   Posted 24/09/2011 at 21:28:04

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I was under the impression that the 7-sub rule was to bring us in line with Europe, and possibly to promote the inclusion of more youth players in the first team?

Clearly, with the state of finances outside the Premier League (and you could say in it), this seems to stretch most teams rather than help them.

Robert Daniels
3   Posted 24/09/2011 at 21:39:03

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Good point Robbie,

Think it would help football.

Well said.
Robbie Muldoon
4   Posted 24/09/2011 at 21:51:17

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Paul Knox
5   Posted 24/09/2011 at 22:12:12

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Wouldn't help us, as Moyes needs to pick from 7 when defending the point fails.
Neil Adams
6   Posted 24/09/2011 at 23:12:39

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No amount of rule-changing is going to level the playing field between the likes of Everton and Manchester City, Get used to it.
Robin Cannon
7   Posted 24/09/2011 at 23:17:46

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I don't see how it would encourage more youth players. More likely they'd have even less chance than they do now of getting any kind of first team involvement, because even getting on the bench would be next to impossible.
Ian McDowell
8   Posted 24/09/2011 at 23:33:15

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One thing that might help would be a neutral referee. Today's game was a shockingly biased one-sided performance; until mangers take the hit and come out and say it's blatant cheating, nothing will be done. Howard Webb ? you cunt.
Erik Dols
9   Posted 24/09/2011 at 23:36:45

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If you think the problem is financial inequality then you should change the rules in that area. For example, a wage cap or a budget cap where no-one can spend more than say 2 times the amount the lowest spending team does. If the problem is financial and you want rules to do something about it, make financial rules then!

I like the idea of bringing down the number of subs but that's out of nostalgia and not because I feel it will bring more equality into play.
Jason Heng
10   Posted 25/09/2011 at 00:18:56

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#1 Nick , that's clever, blame the Asians.

The EPL runs along the lines of business in the global free market. If a club has the financial muscle, it uses it to dominate. If it doesn't, it uses creative means to narrow the disadvantage etc etc.

If we want fairness across the clubs, it is better for the league to run in the framework of the NBA - total wage bills are capped, players are exchanged and rookies are drafted with the weakest teams given right to choose first.
Nick Entwistle
11   Posted 25/09/2011 at 00:47:21

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They bought in rules Eric, only City are circumnavigating them by signing a £400m sponsorship deal.
Eric Myles
12   Posted 25/09/2011 at 01:59:27

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EriK, the lowest spending team was us with £0.00, what's double that?

I remember the days when football was played with no substitutes.
Mick Davies
13   Posted 25/09/2011 at 03:10:30

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Footballs not about substitutes, it's more like prostitutes. If the authorities were to try and change any rule which impairs the wealthy clubs in favour of the have nots, palms would be greased and it would all be forgotten about. Sport has been killed by greed and if you doubt that, ask yourself why so many Americans buy up PL clubs. Is it because they are closet lifelong supporters?
Brian Waring
14   Posted 25/09/2011 at 10:43:28

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I agree with Robin (#7) that it would only hinder the youth coming through.

Would we have seen Barkley with the 3 sub rule?
David Hallwood
15   Posted 25/09/2011 at 12:02:20

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A good thread for a change, I think Robbie's proposal is good (but I would have 3 +GK), but obviously the best way to do it is along the lines of American football. Yes there are pitfalls but FFS if the most free market obsessed nation in the world can see the dangers of letting 12-14 clubs to dominate the game worldwide, and put a system in place to combat it, without, and we will need our USA TWebbers to confirm this, very few problems
Robbie Riddal
16   Posted 25/09/2011 at 12:51:14

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I don't see it would hinder youth development. What we would see is clubs having 14/15 top class players and the rest would be younger players with potential.

At the moment, we have a situation where top clubs like United & City can name almost 3 teams that could be competitive toward the top end of the Premier League; eliminate the number of substitutes a club can name and you drastically reduce the chances of these top class players having game-time; the clubs wouldn't be able to keep these players happy, the players would want to be at a club where they will be involved. I think we'd see a more even spread of top class players at different clubs.

The younger players would be training with the top players as they'd be part of the first team squad, and they'd get their opportunity when injuries and suspensions hit, and when fixtures pile up.

This is of course on the presumption that most top footballers are hungry to actually play football, rather than being happy to be one of 25 top players with a stake in being in a squad of 15, happy just to pick up their astronomical wages.

I can't see any downside to it. I don't see why it'd have to be 3+ GK either; it's for the manager to decide or gamble on whether he wants to include one. Like it used to be. Certainly make it more interesting and entertaining anyway.

I don't see how they will be able to introduce a wage cap anyway - there will always be a way to circumnavigate financial restrictions like this - but there's no way any club can circumnavigate a ruling such as number of substitutes one can name. 25 international players competing for 14 places is a lot more difficult to maintain than 25 international players competing for 18 places.
Peter Fearon
17   Posted 25/09/2011 at 15:08:32

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In the days when there were only three subs on the bench managers tended to name only defenders as most defenders have greater utility. Some managers would swap out forwards for defenders as soon as they got a goal up. Having a number of subs to choose from gave them more flexibility to make positive change during a match. There is no evidence to suggest that only three subs on a bench would change the imbalance of wealth in football. In fact - it would make rich clubs richer by reducing their outgoings. They would be able to pay more in transfer fees and therefore the fees would increase, actually expanding the imbalance. Yes, a player like Tevez would look for another job. Everton would still not be able to afford him.
Al Reddish
18   Posted 25/09/2011 at 16:27:42

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I think I read somewhere last week that the FA are to change the rules next season to allowing clubs to name 5 not 7 subs in an attempt to bring more youth through.
Jeremy Benson
19   Posted 26/09/2011 at 07:33:29

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I think Peter is right. All that would happen is the dynamics of the transfer market would change.

Rather than city having 7 x £20 million players on the bench, it'd just change to having 3 x £50 million players.

We still wouldn't be able to afford a single £20 million player on ours, and the difference in class would remain.

We can try and cut the cake whichever way we want, but there is no defeating the basic principle that clubs with money will buy and use the best players, and we will always be on the backfoot.

Life isn't fair, and neither is football - we just have to accept it. Changing rules because we can't compete isn't the answer.
Erik Dols
20   Posted 26/09/2011 at 09:20:23

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Nicc (#11), those were UEFA-rules and Man City did not circumvent them, the rules were flawed. It's basically the same story, the rules are not fit to solve the issue we are talking about. If you want Man City to spend less money on players, make a rule forbidding them to spend more than a certain amount of money on players. It's really that simple. Making a rule about debt-to-equity ratios or something like that will not stop clubs like City, it will more likely stop us...

In general I am surprised that people keep coming up with certain rules/solutions that do not directly target the issue in hand.

Eric (#12) I am NOT talking about transfer spendings but about the footballing budgets in total, so wages included.
Martin Mason
21   Posted 26/09/2011 at 09:30:41

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No substitutes is the way to reducecosts but it is also very unfair given that modern footballers train so hard thatthey also get injusred easily in a game. I'd fully support 3 substitutes.
Mike Elbey
22   Posted 26/09/2011 at 13:18:06

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To be honest I think we are a bit hypocritical moaning about the disparity in wealth that currently exists. Up until the start of the Premier League we were widely regarded as one of the 'big 5'. We were one of the teams that could outspend others and we did little moaning then.

Football is all about cycles. At present, Man City and Chelsea have got their time at the top but it will change, it always does. I am not saying it will or wont be us but as sure as eggs are eggs the likes of City and Chelsea ie clubs that rely on external money, will return to their previous level as their owners move on to their next hobby.

At the moment we are what we are; we survive financially and are playing Premier League football. My biggest moan at the moment is with the manager and his dire tactics. I believe we are the most boring team in the Premier League and that is the main reason why fans are deserting in their numbers. If we carry on as we are, gates will be down to 25k by the start of next season.
Jeremy Benson
23   Posted 26/09/2011 at 17:02:02

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Mike, you are right.

There is more than just the odd "green eyed monster" post these days (not necessarily referring to any in particular), and it smacks too much of the impatient, whingy and needy child, simply because we are the ones going without.

It is as it is - we have to learn to deal with it. Otherwise we risk being perceived as turning into newcastle-type fans...we don't have a god-given right to anything. And if it turns out that we end up in the championship because there are 18 clubs richer than us who can attract/pay for the best players and thus win more football games, then I'm afraid thats life.

Having said that, there is a wider frowning at the business model that is the premiership, and I agree - but only if its as part of the "harming the game" argument, not the "its not fair we aren't winning anything" camp.

Other sports have introduced caps on the financials (wages, etc). I'd love to hear how that actually works in practice, and whether its made any difference to the "poor" clubs ability to compete for the highest honours.

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