The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has extended the option for competitions to allow five substitutes per team in every match into 2021, provoking the wrath of ex-pros Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Football's rules governing body took the decision to give competitions scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020 the option to permit five subs back in May as leagues around the world resumed following widespread coronavirus-enforced stoppages.
Its board of directors conducted an in-depth review to determine whether to extend the option following feedback from stakeholders and an assessment of Covid-19's impact on competition calendars.
The board took the decision to extend it to competitions set to be completed by July 31, 2021 and to international competitions scheduled in July/August 2021.
The decision may prove to be somewhat less than universally popular, with both Neville and Carragher expressing their opposition in strong terms minutes after the announcement was made.
Neville added: "I don’t like or agree with this at all!"
A FIFA media release said that the reasons for giving competitions the option remain valid and that player welfare will likely continue to be impacted due to the shorter-than-usual recovery and preparation period athletes in competitions that resumed in 2020 may have before the start of the 2020-21 season.
The release also pointed to the condensed fixture schedule that is set to be a feature of most major competitions next term due to delayed starts and major international tournaments preventing a later end to the 2020-21 campaign.
The Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A, which opted to resume the 2019-20 season following lockdown, are all set to start in September and end in May, with Ligue 1 - which was cut short in March and will commence in August - the lone exception among the top five European leagues.
Euro 2020 - delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic - is scheduled to begin on June 11, as is the 2021 Copa America. Both competitions are set to finish on July 11.