KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- World football federation FIFA is proposing allowing teams to use up to five substitutions per match on a temporary basis as a way of coping with fitness issues on the resumption of competition after the coronavirus pandemic – whenever that may be.

Competitive action around the world juddered to a halt in mid-March and though many countries still hope to complete the season that will mean a fixtures crush.

FIFA’s proposal would have to approved by the law-making International Board which may be reluctant for fear of later being unable to turn back the clock to the current three-subs-a-game. IFAB comprises the four British home associations and FIFA.

Numbersgame . . . standard sight in modern football

A FIFA statement said: “One concern in this regard is that the higher-than-normal frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to a resulting player overload.

“Each team would now be given the possibility to use up to five substitutions during the match, with the possibility of an additional substitution remaining during extra time, where relevant.”

Health priority

The measure would apply to this season and next season plus all international matches until December 31 next year. The substitutions would have to be made in a maximum of three slots plus the halftime interval.

FIFA said that “football should only resume when the health authorities and governments say it is absolutely safe and non-disruptive of health services being delivered to the populations.”

A number of European leagues are working towards a resumption after the Covid-19 outbreak led to a near-total shutdown of sport on the continent.

Clubs in the top two tiers of professional football in Germany have got players back in training with a view to play starting next month.

Italian teams will be able to resume group training on May 18, while in France the Ligue de Football Professionnel is targeting a return to action in mid-June.

The Premier League and the English Football League are keeping a return date under constant review.

Premier League clubs will discuss the matter again at a shareholders’ meeting on Friday.