The 25 man squad rule came into place at the beginning of this season to encourage the use of more home-grown players in the Premier League with the long term aim of helping the England team. But does such a rule remove the need for another Premier League rule that states “in every Premier League match each participating club shall field a full-strength team”?
I would say that it should do and which of those 25 players are selected on a match-day is purely managerial preference and the team that he feels is right for that particular game. However, it appears that it’s not as clear cut as that as far as the Premier League are concerned because they fined Blackpool £25,000 for fielding a “weakened” side earlier this season, after making 10 changes from their previous side. Therefore, it will certainly be interesting to see what happened if as expected Manchester United put out an under strength side in their final Premier League match.
Quite how the Premier League decides what a “weakened” side is, I will never know and it’s worth noting that the Manchester United’s fringe players are considerably stronger than the squad players available to Blackpool or Wolves. But that doesn’t mean that Manchester United should be able to get away with it while teams like Blackpool and Wolves get punished.
I think now that the 25 man squad rule has been introduced there is really no need to have a rule punishing teams for playing “weakened” sides and no selection within that 25 man squad should ever be considered a weakened team. The other side of it if teams are always punished for using youth/fringe players then when can these players gain experience?
I also feel that to some extent teams can govern themselves. Generally speaking managers send a team out to win a game and are not going put out a weak side for no good reason. Yes, sometimes players need to be rested but I don’t think there would ever be a situation when managers would constantly play a weak team. The 25 man rule should ensure that teams keep a close and compact squad and youth players get plenty of opportunities and surely it’s a managers right to pick and choose between that squad on any match-day.
So is it time for the Premier League to stop punishing teams for fielding a “weakened” side and trust the 25 man squad rule will work?