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Southend United boss urges National League to make rule change

Southend United boss Kevin Maher urges National League bosses to make a rule change, and he isn’t the only one calling for this either.

The Shrimpers manager wants teams in the fifth tier on English football to be able to select more substitutes, as they are only allowed to pick five players for the bench.

Echo News report that Maher is keen for the league to up that number and match that of sides in the Football League who are able to select seven.

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“It’s disappointing only having five subs,” said Maher.

“I’d like more, the League have seven and I’d prefer that.

“With seven you might have younger players you can have involved too.

“Sometimes they need a break and you might be able to throw them on.

“You look at Matt Dennis for instance against Dorking and it changes things for players.

“I think seven subs would be beneficial for everyone.”

Maher spoke more on having to pick five substitute against Solihull Moors this weekend after leaving out Jack Bridge for their last game against Eastleigh id midweek.

“Bridgey has been brilliant for me ever since I’ve been here but Matty Dennis came back onto the bench and it’s difficult,” said Maher.

“We had players who are ready to come on and it’s important if there’s a change needed early in the game.”

Earlier last year, then-Chesterfield manager James Rowe wrote to the National League urging for a new rule to be implemented ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Goalkeeper James Montgomery had to play the last half an hour of Chesterfield’s playoff quarter-final defeat against Notts County injured because the Spireites had no other keeper to call upon.

They were leading 2-1 before the shot-stopper got injured, and that game changer played a huge part in how the game ended up.

The Magpies are another club who want the rule changing and boss Ian Burchnall has called for change.

“I think it’s absolutely Mickey Mouse that the league doesn’t allow seven substitutes,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.

“It’s a difficult decision then for a coach to make and I actually understand why James Rowe was frustrated by not having seven subs and so was I before the game.

“In the end, it worked against them and worked for us, but I still don’t like that as a decision.

“If you look at any of the other leagues, the EFL has had seven subs and increased that to nine during Covid and five of those can play.”

Whilst Notts County have continually pushed for the League to relax the rule in order for teams to have seven subs on the bench to avoid scenarios that impacted Chesterfield, Burchnall said despite protestations, he claimed other clubs actually wanted the number reducing.

“I think we’ve pushed to change it at every meeting and some teams have requested that only three subs are allowed,” he said.

Post-Eastleigh: Ian Burchnall - YouTube

“How crazy is that? Seven is just common sense, but I don’t know why it’s only five.

“It’s a difficult decision then for a coach to make and I actually understand why James Rowe (Chesterfield manager) was frustrated by not having seven subs and so was I before the game.

“In the end, it worked against them and worked for us, but I still don’t like that as a decision.

“But, nonetheless, I will go with what I think is going to suit the team the best not just over 90 minutes but potentially 120.”

Notts County chief executive Jason Turner confirmed that the club had submitted a proposal for an increase in the number of substitutes permitted to be named in a National League matchday squad.

Speaking as part of an update to supporters, Turner explained: “One change we would like to see is an increase in the permitted number of named substitutes in the National League.

“Supported by several other clubs, we have submitted a proposal which states that, as an elite league, we believe the National League should fall in line with the EFL and Premier League by permitting clubs to name more than five.

“We feel we have a strong case and look forward to discussing this further at the league’s forthcoming AGM.”


6.8 SUBSTITUTE PLAYERS – A Club at its discretion may use three substitute Players at any time in a match. Substitution can only be made when play is stopped for any reason and the Referee has given permission. When a Club is making a substitution it shall use a Board to show the number of the Player to be substituted and the number of the substitute Player. The substitution board used shall be branded as determined by the Competition.

A maximum of five substitutes may be nominated and they must be included on the official Team Sheet handed to the Referee before the match in accordance with Rule 8.20. A substitute may not be used to replace a Player who has been suspended from the match by the Match Officials.
If a Player does not take part in the match for which he is a nominated substitute he shall be deemed as not having played for the Club in that match.

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