League eyeing up substitute bench changes

Blues boss Michael Appleton could only name two substitutes for the trip to Oakwell in February
Blues boss Michael Appleton could only name two substitutes for the trip to Oakwell in February
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett was handed a fresh Fratton Park contract this week  Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey statement defies football’s knee-jerk nature

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The Football League are to consider allowing clubs to choose from a seven-man substitutes’ bench next season.

Last summer the number was reduced from seven to five ahead of the current season.

Yet that decision has since been repeatedly criticised by a host of managers.

Birmingham and Derby have now proposed a move back to seven, which will be voted on at the Football League’s annual meeting on May 31 and June 1.

Such news would be welcomed by Michael Appleton, who has been a critic of the five-man bench system.

Predecessor Steve Cotterill also hit out at the league’s decision when it was granted back in July last year following a proposal by Burnley.

At the time, a host of clubs wanted a reduction in order to save on costs.

With many struggling to fund large squads, the change was seen as vital and passed by a majority vote.

However, the FA Cup and Carling Cup seven-man benches remained unaffected.

During the current season, managers have persistently voiced their concerns over the numbers allowed.

They have also indicated seven is preferable in the interests of keeping the squad satisfied.

Now it appears they could have their wish.

Regardless, Pompey have in recent times struggled to fill their bench quota.

In the 2010-11 campaign, Cotterill managed to name seven substitutes on just seven occasions.

In the January 2011 defeat at Nottingham Forest, just three players were on the bench.

This season at Barnsley, in February, Appleton also named three substitutes.

They were Benjani, Adam Webster and Jamie Ashdown as injuries hit hard.

For the final match of the campaign at Forest’s City Ground, four Academy players were on the bench.