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SPFL brings back five-substitute rule for Premiership games

Top flight teams can make extra changes to help deal with Covid's impact.

SPFL brings back five-substitute rule for Premiership games SNS Group
The first game to implement the new rule will be Celtic's match against Hibs.

The SPFL has brought back the five substitutes rule to help teams cope with the impact of Covid on their squads.

The increase from the current three subs per game rule has been rubber-stamped by the league body after 75% of top flight clubs were in favour of the change and it takes effect when the Premiership returns from winter break on Monday.

The league says the move will “support player welfare and assist with the congested fixture schedule given
the possibility of postponements due to weather conditions or Covid-19.”

Clubs will be allowed to name a bench of up to nine players.

Celtic’s game against Hibernian will be the first to implement the change and it is in place for the remainder of the season. The SPFL already allows five substitutes for League 2 but will hold talks with Championship and League 1 clubs about adopting the same rule.

The rule was initially changed when football returned after the first lockdown, extending it through the 2020/21 season to help teams cope with the condensed season and high number of games, in addition to the direct impact of Covid on teams.

A SPFL spokesman said: “FIFA has allowed each league to determine its own rules regarding substitutes since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“As a members’ organisation, it is key that clubs in each division are able to make decisions on issues such as this for themselves.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou recently recommended the change should be adopted, with other managers also keen to see the rule re-introduced.

Managers in the English Premier League have also discussed the benefits of the move, with Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp and Ralf Rangnick all backing the idea in recent weeks.