Ralph Hasenhuttl blames rejection of five subs on Premier League’s ‘tough’ image

Ralph Hasenhuttl has suggested the Premier League’s “tough” image is behind the rejection of proposals to allow sides to make five substitutions per game this season.

On Thursday, a proposal to increase the number of replacements allowed from three to five was rejected for a third time even as the number of substitutes that can be named on the bench was increased from seven to nine and the league approved trials of concussion substitutes.

The decision leaves the Premier League out of step with the major European leagues, which have all made use of the International Football Association Board’s temporary change in regulations – which was extended again on Wednesday.

Thursday’s vote was the third time the proposal has been rejected by Premier League clubs this season, perhaps signalling an end to the argument as managers on both sides of the debate on Friday declared the matter settled.

Hasenhuttl, who had supported an increase to five, offered a smile when asked why the Premier League was standing alone on the issue.

“The Premier League, the image they have is as the toughest league in the world, and I think they underwrite it and it stays like this,” he said.

“But it is definitely tough, especially when all of the other leagues are going into their winter break now, and we go on with the three subs over Christmas and give everything.

“It is tough for everybody, but maybe this is the image we have and we keep on going.”

Liverpool v Midtjylland – UEFA Champions League – Group D – Anfield
Liverpool v Midtjylland – UEFA Champions League – Group D – Anfield

The bigger clubs have supported the proposals, arguing their players are being worn out by the schedules as they balance European commitments on top, but others have rejected them, suggesting they unfairly favour clubs with bigger squads.

Hasenhuttl’s side have enjoyed a strong start to the season and sit third going into Saturday’s meeting with Manchester City, but he knows many of the clubs have been facing more challenging fixture lists.

With the busy festive period ahead, it is a problem which Hasenhuttl must now also consider.

“We don’t really have to moan, because for us it is the first time we have three games in a week,” he said.

“What should the big teams say when they are playing every week now, like we have for just one? We can definitely handle this.

Everton v Chelsea – Premier League – Goodison Park
Everton v Chelsea – Premier League – Goodison Park

“But we also must be careful, we have a few players coming back from injuries and then immediately three games of 90 minutes in week are a little bit dangerous maybe for them.”

While opinions have remained firm on both sides of the debate, most managers seemed keen to move on after Thursday’s vote reaffirmed the two that went before.

“I think it would have been really beneficial for player welfare,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said.

“Normally the modern-day player welfare comes out on top, I don’t think it quite has this time. But the decision’s been made, and we carry on.”