Rules of Substitutions, as approved by the PFA

Footballers have big egos, we know this. But their egos are fragile. They do not like their egos to be crushed. Because of this the PFA Avoidance of Members’ Embarrassment Committee has approved the following for use in the Premier League and Football League. Managers will ignore them at their peril.

Rules of substitutions:

  1. Do not substitute any player before half time unless he is injured (Exception: you are Jose Mourinho)
  2. You may substitute an attacking player at half time if he has been appallingly bad in the first half, but he really must be indefensibly bad
  3. To avoid embarrassing a striker, once the second half has started you must give him at least 15 minutes, however bad he’s been up to that point
  4. You must never substitute a player who has come on as a sub himself, unless he is injured
  5. You must never substitute a centre back for tactical reasons at any point in the game, no matter how many mistakes he makes

    “Lamps, ‘old this while I take me shirt off”

  6. If you are winning, you may substitute a centre back after 80 minutes in order to rest him (any earlier and there is a danger of it looking tactical)
  7. If you are winning, you may substitute an attacking player after 75 minutes in order to rest him
  8. You must never substitute a goalkeeper for tactical or form reasons, he must stay on however bad he is and however many goals he concedes
  9. If a game goes to extra time, you may substitute anyone except the goalkeeper and centre backs on the grounds of tiredness
  10. After five minutes of the second half of extra time you may substitute a centre back on the grounds of bringing on a penalty specialist

If you are Arsène Wenger, there are these additional rules:

  • Do not under any circumstances substitute anyone for tactical reasons until the 67th minute
  • It is fine to substitute your best player on the day; the fact he has been the best means he has been trying the hardest and will be the most tired

    Arsene Wenger supplementary rules: No 2

  • The best substitutions are ones where you put on exactly the same type of player as you take off; eg take off nippy attacking midfielder, put on nippy attacking midfielder. This avoids confusion.

Have I missed any out? Let me know below or on Twitter: @AngryOfN5

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5 thoughts on “Rules of Substitutions, as approved by the PFA

  1. Seriously, I spent a minute of my time reading this (and further time typing this reply). My problem isn’t so much with the article as the hit-trawling ‘approved by the PFA’ headline. That’s time I’ll never get back man. Guess blocking this site from my NewsNow is the only way to ensure it never happens again…

    • Well the good news for you is that the average lifespan is getting longer all the time, so a couple of minutes diverted to this is probably irrelevant. The bad news is I doubt you’ll enjoy your extra time.
      Have a nice day.

  2. This may be a technical addendum, but, Wenger rules also stipulate that you should never have to substantiate, defend, or expound upon substitution decisions.
    Should you be asked, curb the offending sceptic’s probe immediately by submitting how many thousands of subs you have previously made as evidence that his or her question is groundless.

  3. Did anyone see the suggestion that Wenger plans all of his possible substitutions before the game has even started to avoid making ‘off the cuff’ decisions. So, depending on how the game is progressing, a variety of pre-planned substitutions are available. Hence, the Ox in his first top four game will tire after 70 minutes. It sounds like a good plan, but I’m never quite sure it works 100% in practice!

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