In a race to meet the government-approved June 1st resumption of sports behind closed doors, Premier League sides may be forced to settle on a drastically different conclusion to the current campaign.
With many football-fans clamouring for a Premier League return, they ought to tread lightly. After all, the sport as we previously knew it might be off the cards for an extended period yet.
Following further discussions between the Premier League and the English Football Association, project ‘restart’ seems to be edging ever closer. However, as reported per the BBC, further modifications must first be implemented for the EPL to continue.
The International Football Association Board (Ifab) has ruled that, in tweaking several footballing ‘laws’, the safety of players will be fortified.
BREAKING: FIFA have agreed to temporary rule changes for if/when football resumes…
– Teams will be allowed up to five substitutions
– Only three 'in-game' opportunities to make subs, to avoid extra time-wasting
– VAR can be removed IF the league wants to
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) May 8, 2020
Five substitutions in three respective instances are set to reduce players’ time spent on the pitch. Though, while planned to minimise the potential of players passing COVID-19 to one another, this change might also impact the tactical side of the game.
With half of a side’s outfield players replaceable, there will be less emphasis on getting starting line-ups ‘correct’. Additionally, with an expanded match-day squad size of 23 (from 18), this alteration will allow for a further variety of options in regard to tactical flexibility.
Player fitness would likely be another aspect influenced by an increased number of substitutions. Stronger teams’ superior fitness levels will serve as less of an advantage with greater rotation allowing for further fresh legs on the pitch.
The final big change of note is the possible exclusion of Video Assistant Referee (VAR), should the Premier League opt to go without it for the remainder of the campaign.
A topic of much debate, VAR is far from the finished article. The thought process behind bringing its use to a sharp halt however, is to again shorten the duration of player pitch time.
Time and time again VAR decisions have dragged on for minutes on end, drastically stunting any momentum a match has to offer. Currently, with each passing minute equating to an additional risk to players’ health, it makes sense that these reviews would be the first on the chopping block.
Effective Playing Time in the Premier League after VAR was introduced…
— Andy Forrester (@AndyForrester1) March 5, 2020
The primary ambitions of these changes are to limit player interaction and minimise disruption to fixtures. But, by implementing these temporary adjustments, are the FA compromising the very fabric of their top-flight?
Be careful what you wish for, as the butterfly effect football’s rushed return might echo for years down the line.