There’s always something changing in football rules, be it the handball, offside or where subs have to walk off the field.
Sometimes we see the impact at Sincil Bank, other times we do not. From next season we’ll certainly see the impact of the latest change; there will be five permitted subs in League One.
It isn’t the first time we’ve seen such a change; during Covid when games were condensed into tight periods we were allowed to make five changes. Last season we often made four; if a player was concussed he could come off and be replaced with no impact on our existing number of substitutes. I recall people scratching their heads when we made a fourth change in a couple of games, unaware that one of the switches had been for a concussion. This coming season, we can make five changes, but it isn’t that straightforward.
You can still only make changes on three occasions, but you can bring on five players. For instance, if we made changes on 65, 70 and 75 minutes, then wanted to make a fourth on 80, we could not. If we made two changes on 65 minutes and two changes on 75 minutes, we could still make a single change. So, to be clear, we can bring a total of five players on, but only in three stoppages. Unless….
That’s right, there’s an unless. You can make a change at half-time and it doesn’t impact your later changes (confused yet?). Basically, you could bring two players on at half-time, and still make three changes in the second half, one each time, because the half-time change doesn’t count as a stoppage. You can only stop the game for changes three times, but if the game is already stopped because of half-time, it’s a free hit. The number you have on the bench (seven for most teams, usually two-and-a-half for us), doesn’t change.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the switch. Those clubs with bigger squads and thus better players on the bench are put at an advantage. I don’t see why we couldn’t just stick with three changes but maybe that’s just the Luddite in me.
We might also see the Imps wear an away kit at home thanks to another rule change. I always chuckle when I recall us announcing we were going to wear on blue third kit at home against Peterborough, only for a retraction to be made when fans kicked off. Lincoln play in red and white at home but, for colourblind fans, that could be an issue. From next season, home teams will be permitted to change their kits if the away team’s kits both cause issues for colourblind supporters. Teams will also be permitted to wear ‘mix and match kits’ to avoid colourblind clashes.