Sheffield United expected to vote in favour of law change
Sheffield United are poised to vote in favour of a move to introduce concussion substitutes when the Premier League holds its latest shareholders meeting today.
Despite helping to block proposals aimed at increasing the number of changes teams are permitted to make during the course of top-flight games earlier this season, officials at Bramall Lane will throw their weight behind measures designed to protect players suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
There is widespread support for the plan among top-flight clubs, with discussion expected to focus on whether the substitutions should be permanent or temporary - a move favoured by health experts who argue it would provide pitchside doctors with more time to make an accurate diagnosis.
Speaking earlier this year, Chris Wilder signalled his support for a law change in the event of a suspected concussion; arguing managers and coaches should always be guided by “the medics” on such matters.
“They are the ones who know about these things,” he said. “They are the ones with the expertise in this area, not us, and we should do whatever we can to ensure their advice is listened to and acted upon.”
United’s Max Lowe and John Egan have both suffered concussions this term, with the latter receiving treatment following a clash of heads with his Republic of Ireland team mate Conor Hourihane during a friendly against England. Although Hourihane was able to continue, that incident is among several expected to be used as evidence managers should be granted two concussion substitutions rather than one.
Although United opposed calls earlier this season to allow five changes rather than three in normal circumstances - a move Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp famously described as “selfish” at the time - on that occasion their resistance stemmed from fears an alteration to the laws would disadvantage clubs with smaller squads.
Still manager of West Bromwich Albion at the time, Slaven Bilic leapt to United’s defence by pointing out that “every manager” wanted to do what was in their own side’s “best interests”.
Despite making no apology for his stance, Wilder later acknowledged that United would accept the introduction of five substitutes for tactical or fitness reasons other than concussion if it was backed by the required majority of PL members.