Rolling subs trial welcomed at grassroots level

The grassroots football community would welcome unlimited substitutions throughout the amateur game, a Club Website poll can reveal.

Earlier this month, the game's law-makers, IFAB, approved a two-year experiment by the four UK home nations to modify the number of substitutions allowed in the amateur game.

Following the law change, repeat substitutions could become a feature of youth and open-age football matches across the UK from next season - a move that would be welcomed by the majority of the grassroots community.

56% of Club Website members said that they would welcome the introduction of rolling subs in all amateur football, while a further 21% would like to see the rule introduced for all youth football but not in the adult game.

22% of people would be happy to maintain the status quo, which sees rolling substitutes employed in most younger age groups, but the traditional "3 from 5" rule introduced for older teenage sides in preparation for open-age football.

Among those celebrating the ruling is David Little, national secretary of the Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA), whose campaign for a change to increase participation in the game has been a longstanding one.

“I’m walking on air at the moment," Little told Club Website. "This is an accumulation of 12 years work to get this sensible decision in place.

"If kids and adults aren’t playing the game at grassroots level the future of the professional game is affected.

"We're really, really pleased about this. I think it's important that anything that can encourage people to play the game is put in place."

IFAB's decision came after a joint proposal from the four home nation FAs, who formed a 'Home Nations Committee' in 2010 to discuss key issues in the grassroots game across the UK.

"It's been fantastic," Little enthused about the work of the committee. "My thanks go out to Nick Levett at the FA who has been a fantastic ally in this campaign.

"One of the positives to come out of this is the fact that the grassroots level of the game has been discussing problems and coming forward with solutions for the benefit of the recreational game."

Away from the corridors of power, the news was also welcomed by Club Website members when we broke the story last month. Dave Hammond was among them, describing the trial as a "great idea".

"I currently will only take 14 players to a game as I won’t take people and not play them," he said. "If I could take more players then I would be able to give more lads the chance of at least part of a game."

Roger Hodson also supported the idea.  He said: "I am secretary of a youth team so it’s great news, as the more of the lads getting pitch time, the easier it will be to retain them. Who wants to sit on the bench all the time? Bring it on."

Not everyone wants to see a change to the rules, however, as our poll results suggest.

Mark commented: "[Our] Sunday league is competitive and is difficult enough to run with 3 subs never mind constant rolling subs… joke of a change if it is brought in."

Whilst some people, including Graham Mills, felt the changes were best suited for youth football only.

"I think it’s a good idea for youth games but not for adult football," he said. "Three subs is already too many in my opinion. I’ve seen managers bring on players just to give them a game and it can upset the rhythm of the team."

Have your say on the rolling subs trial in our comments section below.

Dan Pope, Club Website editor

Club Website poll result

Should rolling substitutes be used throughout grassroots football?
- Yes. Introduce them to ALL FOOTBALL (youth & open-age) 56.4%
- No. Leave as it is (older age groups & open-age as fixed subs) 22.4%
- No. Introduce to ALL YOUTH football (leave open-age as fixed subs)  21.3%

Total votes cast: 3,576


Thanks to Peter Edmondson for the second image above (of Butleigh Wootton FC) - see for more of Pete's photos.

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