The powers that be using a 'temporary' change in a time of crisis to force through something people don't want permanently? Where have we seen that before?

It was inevitable really. As soon as an understandable concession was made to help alleviate clubs in troubled times, it was always going to end up staying forever one way or another - and now it appears that five substitutions are here for good.

It will be a big benefit to clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City, so Reds and Blues can rejoice. But it is yet another small act of chipping away what makes football such a great sport: competitiveness.

At the height of the pandemic as football took its first cautious steps into a strange new world the number of substitutions permitted was increased from three to five to help clubs cope with the hectic schedule of games in such a short period of time as leagues and clubs scrambled to make up the backlog of fixtures.

It made complete sense at the time. Players were far from their top levels of fitness after going three months without playing and had to come pretty much straight back into action. These factors had increased the chances of injury substantially and allowing for extra subs, so more players could be rested towards the end of games, was a logical move.

The Premier League rightly took advantage during Project Restart but reverted back to the usual three for last season and the current campaign.

The rest of Europe's big leagues, as well as the Champions League, continued with five, however, much to the managers of England's big sides' - most notably Pep Guardiola - chagrin. The extension was only meant to last until the end of 2022 to cover the Qatar World Cup but, according to The Times, it is set to become permanent after gaining strong support 'from a number of football bodies.'

While leagues would still have the choice to stick with three, it's reported that if the rule change became permanent then it would increase the pressure for England to fall in line.

That wouldn't be a problem at all for the Premier League's cabal of big clubs. Three times they attempted to force through the return of five substitutes last season but, on each occasion, they were outvoted, with a majority of 14 clubs required to pass a motion.

The last vote in December saw 10 clubs vote in favour and the list of those who opposed is telling: Aston Villa, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leicester City, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The league's smaller sides don't want the change while United, City and the rest of the biggest teams do, because it only benefits them.

The richest with incredible strength in depth - who can hardly keep all their players happy as it is due to a lacking of playing time - would hold such an advantage over smaller opposition as they would be able to replace half of their outfield team with players of an equal calibre.

Should a lesser team be leading on the hour mark, a big side would be able to bring in a cavalry of big hitters, freshening up their while forward line, making the likelihood of that lesser team holding out much less.

In City's recent 2-0 victory over Burnley, the Blues named £100million forward Jack Grealish on their bench along with £110million worth of defender in Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker, not to mention Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho and Aleks Zinchenko. In contrast, Burnley's bench cost a mere £15.8million, with nine of that accounting for Jay Rodriguez.

City and United have so much strength in depth

For United's defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, their bench cost a staggering £290million - and three of those players were actually signed for free!

The imbalance of wealth has already ended the Premier League as a serious competition for all apart from six or so teams but they are still not satisfied with that chasm. The European Super League, television rights shares, the extension of the Champions League, all are ploys to keep the have nots where they are and to get the haves even more.

It will never, ever stop now until football finally swallows itself and it all starts again. But why does that disparity need to be reflected in the very rules of the game itself?

The beauty of football, and what keeps us all on the hook for a game whose winners are now almost always the richest, is that on any given day any team can beat any other. Sometimes variables that can't be controlled, touched or influenced by money conspire to create the most unlikely of results. The best of results.

But an increase of substitutions just decreases those chances a little more. Takes away just a little bit more of that magic.

United and City may be delighted with the upcoming rule change, if it indeed gets voted into the Premier League, but it's only bad for football.

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