Exeter City manager Matt Taylor has hit out at the EFL’s decision to increase the number of substitutions from three to five for league matches from this weekend, calling it ‘weak and naive.’
The game’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board, announced in July that the five replacements rule would be extended into 2020-21 – but that it would be up to individual competitions whether they adopted it.
The Premier League is the only major top-flight division in Europe which does not allow teams to make five changes in a match during the current campaign, with the Champions League, Europa League and international fixtures also permitting five substitutes.
Now, the EFL have followed suit by announcing that a motion in support of additional substitutes to be used had been passed by the board.
Under the new regulations, teams in the Championship will be able to make five changes from a pool of nine substitutes. For League One and League Two, any five from seven will be permitted, but Taylor has been left angered by the decision.
“I think it’s ridiculous to be honest with you,” he said. “Just because two high profile managers (Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola) at the top level of the game have made remarks because they have struggled with injuries, the governing bodies feel they need to change and change a third of the way through the season.
“Either do it at the start of the season, or halfway through. But, all of a sudden, it doesn’t feel like a level playing field.
“I am disappointed because I think it is a weak and naive decision by the EFL and they will say that the clubs voted for it, but the clubs are always going to vote for it.
“You can change half a team, so we might as well play three games of five a side. You can change half your team at any point in a game now and I am totally against it.
“The reason why we promote our young players – and strengthen our squad with a big influx of young players – is to give them an opportunity. They make up the DNA of our squad. I am so disappointed with that decision, I really am.”
As things stand the Premier League remains the only top division in Europe not to have implemented the change, but Taylor is adamant it is a matter of time before they follow suit.
“I guarantee they will do,” he said. “High profile managers moan about certain bits and pieces, but (Virgil) van Dyke’s injury was a contact injury which you get day in day out in football, or in sport.
“Players should be trained to a certain level where you can only do so much and then play them when you can. No one is playing more games than football right now. We aren’t moaning about it. We don’t need extra subs, just use your squad as best you possibly can.
“I am disappointed because I don’t think a football game is a fair reflection on the team you pick when you can then make five substitutes. Ten changes in a game? That’s unheard of.
“It will be like pre-season games where they become disjointed. If people are questioning whether or not to watch games of football because we are losing the intensity and atmosphere, I can guarantee you that ten substitutions will affect that as well.
“I am really disappointed with it and I told our club to vote against it.”
Taylor will have the opportunity to make wholesale substitutions tomorrow when his Exeter side look to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches against Oldham Athletic at St James Park.
The Grecians are likely to be without defenders Josh Key and Tom Parkes for the game after they were both injured in the 2-2 draw at Bradford City last week.
“They are trying their hardest to be fit for Saturday, but I think it will come too soon. They were significant damages to certain parts of their body. If it was the last game of the season, we could probably get them out there in some form but, with so many games in quick succession, it would be wrong for me to put them at risk.
“I will assess it, but we are likely to be without Tom, Josh, Ben Seymour from Tuesday night. Nigel still needs more training time, as does Lewis Page.
Meanwhile, former Exeter manager Paul Tisdale has been named as the new manager of League One strugglers Bristol Rovers.
The 47-year-old has signed a two-year deal to replace Ben Garner, who was sacked following last weekend’s 4-1 defeat by Fleetwood.
Tisdale spent 12 years in charge of Exeter and was the longest-serving manager in English football’s top four divisions when he left.
He later took over at MK Dons, leading the club to promotion from Sky Bet League Two.
Chief executive Martyn Starnes is delighted Tisdale is now beginning a new chapter with the Pirates.
He said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul to the football club. “Paul has a vast amount of experience in the game and has several promotions on his CV. His ambition and long-term goals mirror that of the club’s ongoing strategy, to build a Bristol Rovers DNA.”