Sheffield United explain why they attempted to block key rule change

Chris Wilder has explained why, despite being welcomed by the majority of Premier League members, Sheffield United voted against increasing the number of substitutions teams are permitted to make between now and the end of the season.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 4:00 pm

This evening’s match between United and Aston Villa in the West Midlands - the first to be staged in England since competition was suspended in March - will be the first where managers can implement five changes to their starting elevens rather than the usual three.

The amendment, which has been sanctioned by the International Football Association Board, is designed to reduce the workload on players following the Covid-19 pandemic - with top-flight sides scheduled to fulfil the 92 fixtures remaining on the 2019/20 calendar before the beginning of August. United's programme is set to become even more demanding if they win this month's FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal/

But Wilder, whose side will climb to fifth if they win at Villa Park (kick-off 6pm), said: “We voted against the subs (ruling) as we feel it favours the powerful clubs with bigger and better academies and we also believe that it shouldn’t have been changed mid-season,” Wilder said. “But it got voted in and so we have to go with that.

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Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder is against the rule change but says he respects those who wanted to implement it: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

“We thought it wasn’t the right way to go about it but we respect the decision that has been made. We are ready to go and the boys are competitors.”

Dean Smith, Wilder’s counterpart in the West Midlands, also attempted to block the change. Smith’s men are 19th, and battling to escape the relegation zone after also being promoted from the Championship last term - albeit via the play-offs.

“I wasn’t for it,” he admitted earlier this week. “I believe we started the season with certain rules and now we have changed it. I suppose it helps clubs with bigger squads.

“There was talk to change it because there was more risk of injury, but having more subs doesn’t help that. I just wanted it to stay as it was and I think Sheffield United were the same.”

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