July 15, 2020 / 5:40 PM / a month ago

IFAB confirms five substitutes rule will be extended into 2020-21 season

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v Manchester United - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - July 9, 2020 Manchester United's Brandon Williams comes on as a substitute to replace Nemanja Matic, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS / Andrew Boyers / Pool

(Reuters) - Football’s rule-making body IFAB on Wednesday said teams will be allowed to continue to use up to five substitutes next season, in a bid to cope with potential fixture congestion in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IFAB, the International Football Association Board, had agreed to a temporary change to allow teams to use five substitutes, rather than the usual three, in May to “protect player welfare”.

The decision on whether to apply this temporary amendment remains at the discretion of each competition organiser, IFAB added.

“...the IFAB Board of Directors has extended the option to competitions scheduled to be completed by 31 July 2021 and to international competitions scheduled in July/August 2021,” the body said in a statement.

Each team will only have three chances to make substitutions, although changes made at halftime are not counted as one of the three opportunities.

Major European leagues such as England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga adopted the rule for the remaining games of the extended 2019-20 season.

The 2020-21 campaign will also be affected by the novel coronavirus, with top leagues not expected to start until mid-September.

The Champions League group stage matches have also been pushed to October and will be played over six consecutive midweeks.

IFAB said it will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the game to ensure “appropriate action is taken in the future in relation to this temporary amendment”.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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