Why National League won't be following EFL in allowing five substitutions next season

A proposal to increase the number of substitutions from three to five in the National League for the new 2022/2023 campaign did not get enough support.

By Liam Norcliffe
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 8:43 pm

From next season, clubs in the EFL will be able to name seven subs on the bench and use five during a match, while Premier League teams will be able to list as many as nine.

Traditionally, clubs have only been able to make three changes during games but, after a temporary increase to five during the pandemic, a decision has now been made to go with the higher number on a permanent basis.

Clubs will only be allowed three opportunities during a match to make their subs, in addition to any changes made at half-time.

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National League clubs have voted against allowing five substitutes next season.

However, this will not be the case in the National League next season, where teams will continue to only make three subs.

Clubs at step one held a vote on Saturday at the National League AGM and the outcome was for three subs to remain in place.

The motion was 15-9 in favour of the rule change but it needed a 75 per cent majority (18) to pass. This was not met so the motion was rejected.

The National League said only step one clubs voted on it because there has to be a fourth official in place to oversee the increased number of substitutions – something matches at step two and below don’t have.

The Derbyshire Times has asked the Spireites how they voted and is awaiting a response.

Former Town manager James Rowe spoke out about the need for an increase in substitutes on a number of occasions, as have many other bosses.

Rowe’s main point centred on how the National League was considered an ‘elite’ league during the pandemic and that it should follow the lead of the top divisions.

He called the decision to vote against it last summer ‘dangerous’ and ‘scandalous.’

However, smaller clubs in the division are not in favour because they feel it gives the bigger and wealthier clubs a clear advantage.

“I think it is thinking backwards, standing still, and we don’t want the game in the upper echelons of the pyramid to get away from us,” Rowe explained last year. “We have got so much to be proud of at this level but you have to evolve.”

He was backed up by then Notts County manager, Ian Burchnall, who slammed it as ‘Mickey Mouse’ decision.