New seven-sub rule is welcomed by City hero

David Cuffley The Norwich City hero who spent many a wintry afternoon trying to keep warm on the bench has welcomed the news that it will be an 18-man game from the start of next season.

David Cuffley

The Norwich City hero who spent many a wintry afternoon trying to keep warm on the bench has welcomed the news that it will be an 18-man game from the start of next season.

At the Football League annual meeting, clubs approved a proposal from Derby County to increase the number of substitutes to seven per team - though still only three are able to take the field.

The move brings the Championship, League One and League Two into line with the Premier League and with the two domestic cup competitions.


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Midfielder Jeremy Goss was named as a substitute no fewer than 78 times in his 11 years as a member of the Canaries' senior squad, mostly in the days before his Uefa Cup heroics. On 38 occasions he failed to get on the field.

Goss, 44, now the club's community ambassador, began his City career at a time when just one substitute was permitted - but he believes giving managers a wider choice is a good move.

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“I still remember the game when there was just one sub and I think I had some kind of record under Ken Brown or Dave Stringer with 18 consecutive games as the sub,” said Goss.

“Then it was extended to two, then three, then eventually five.

“Now with seven it's a massive benefit to the manager because he has so many players to choose from. Is there going to be enough room on the bench?

“It keeps another two players involved in the first team picture because if you train all week and you're not in that 16, it's very frustrating not being able to contribute on match day.

“Nobody likes being left out of the 11, but not even making the bench is depressing.”

Goss accepts that the system will favour clubs with stronger squads and quality in reserve rather than those with a smaller pool of players - and that there may be situations where too much choice could make the manager's decision less clear-cut.

“It will also mean it becomes very crowded in the dressing room with the number of support staff there are nowadays, and players don't like it if it gets too cramped,” he said.

Substitutes were introduced into the Football League in the 1965-66 season and Gordon Bolland became the first No 12 to take the field for the Canaries in a 0-0 draw at Bristol City in August 1965.

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