Rule on fielding full-strength teams in EPL to be relaxed


London : The controversial rule to punish English Premier League clubs for fielding “weakened teams” is to be revisited and relaxed from this season by the Football Association (FA).

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This comes following the feeling that Blackpool manager Ian Holloway was unfairly punished by FA for not fielding the first choice eleven against Aston Villa in November with an eye to winning the key game against West Ham three days later.

Holloway received a 25,000 pounds fine after effecting 10 changes to his first team in the game against Villa who won the match 1-0. Aston Villa won the game and both Blackpool and West Ham were relegated.

The contentious rule that “in every league match each participating club shall field a full-strength team.” and it has led to fining of managers for resting players to keep them fresh for winnable games.

Two seasons ago, Mick McCarthy of Wolverhampton Wanderers received a suspended 25,000 pounds fine after a second-string side lost 0-3 at Manchester United before the first XI came back to beat Burnley 2-0 in the next game to avoid relegation.

A fuming Holloway said: “Who the hell are they to tell me my players are not good enough?”

Holloway’s outburst led to the Premier League clubs re-examining the rule. At the post-season AGM, a majority of clubs were in favour of relaxing the rule.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager said at that time: “His (Holloway) team was not weak because they nearly made a good result. I have sympathy. It is a rule which may be looked at, especially if you limit the squad. I feel this rule should go.”