Date: 19th May 2016 at 8:32pm
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With changes to the rules of the game already confirmed, it’s being reported West Bromwich Albion are one of the Premier League clubs looking at increasing substitute numbers for match days.

With the International Football Association Board (IFAB) already announcing changes to the powers of match day referees for 2016/17 and general rule tweaks to how 90 minutes can play out in terms of punishable indiscretions from players, Sky Sports have reported this week that Premier League clubs are meeting next month to discuss the possibility of increasing the substitute options on the bench for the coming season as well.

With the Premier League already boosting the regulation five a few years back in 2008 to seven options, mainly with the argument of being allowed to incorporate a keeper without impinging on outfield tactical and injury choices, the Football League obviously followed suit for the 72 clubs under their umbrella, but freedom was given to not force clubs below the top flight to name seven or forfeit a game – and it’s common (ish) in League Two, for example, for clubs to only name the five.

It’s a far cry from three substitutes being named – I would say back in the good ol’ days but I’m not that old.

Anyway, Sky are reporting that clubs are set to meet for a summer pow-wow over seeing if there’s agreement and good argument for lifting that number of seven to nine (almost a Star Trek reference for anybody interested) for the clubs campaign – with the proviso being clubs still only utilise three players from the bench.

They say Manchester United and Chelsea are leading the meeting in wanting a boost – albeit not claiming they are alone in wanting the change – and it is set to be discussed at this summer’s AGM in June.

For the big hitters in the division – I imagine one of the arguments is with the introduction of naming a 25 man squad now for Premier League use, increasing substitute options would naturally increase playing time for people who may otherwise find themselves left out of a match day squad but in hindsight could’ve seen themselves used given how any game could play out – it makes perfect sense.

If you have to name a maximum 25 man squad why can’t 25 make up a match day squad.

But on the counterside, with less Sky rich and rich in general clubs already in the division, added to Burnley and Middlesbrough taking seats at this AGM, and the fact they will be joined by either Hull City or Sheffield Wednesday – even with the 25 man squad argument, they have a clear counter that it serves as a disadvantage for them as in instances where somebody may not be fit enough to figure on a seven man bench they could a nine, and players being rested and ruled out of a seven man bench could come into play on a nine man bench.

As we’ve seen from IFAB’s latest changes, tweaks to the game are supposed to be about fairness and proportionality (even if not perfect) and extended benches would clearly benefit bigger clubs fighting on more fronts.

Not so much tighter squads really though and those who haven’t even named a full 25 man squad since its introduction. The argument would be it would force some sides each match day to name youngsters that aren’t ready and haven’t played themselves into that kind of reward.

But would that be a bad thing?

And again, even then you have to come back to 25 man squads – why can’t that regulated squad choice have an opportunity each week to get game time.

And for the younger element, if a match day is going particularly well for a given side, if shining Development Squad players have been forced to naturally take up a place on the bench, would they benefit from 5-10 minutes because they were an option they otherwise wouldn’t have been?

You could argue it’s win, win for all sides on that basis.

Which brings up a different topic – if substitute numbers are to be increased by two – should one or both of those additions have conditions, for example:

Sub 8 – has to be in 25 man squad but with less than % appearances.
Sub 9 – has to be a Development Squad player with less than % appearances.

Would that improve game time, plus youngster development as opposed to two extra substitute places going to multi million pound signings and the perceived ‘spending’ to the title?

Other changes for next season’s Premier League are already known, and we will now have ten games on a Friday evening for the first time in top flight history.

There will also be a brand new substitute board with sponsor – but they aren’t paying me so I’m not mentioning them.

Another company will also be launching the 2016/17 official football later this summer – but naming rights again I’m not getting a penny of – but I can exclusively reveal that as per IFAB rules it will be ‘spherical’ and made from ‘suitable materiaal’.

Some of us will call it ‘that thing you kick’ and with fair playing reigning, I don’t mean opposition players.

With the Premier League also rebranding their logo this summer, that’s another change fans will see and for the first time, the Premier League won’t be sponsored by a single company in terms of ‘title sponsorship’, it will instead be sponsored by a satellite of non title sponsors which certainly won’t decrease the revenue the Premier League takes.

Oh and despite the millions – away fans have to be happy with a £30 cap on ticket prices.

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