Rotation, Weakened Teams and the Premier League Rules

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Published: Wednesday, 06 October 2010. Written by Daniel Geey No Comments

Daniel Geey takes a look at how Premier League (PL) clubs are now having to deal with squad sizes limited to 25 players, eight of whom have to meet the ‘home grown’ criteria, in this bulletin we consider the highly contentious issue of PL teams strategically fielding weakened teams.

Last season saw Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) being slapped with a suspended £25,000 fine as a result of breaching PL rules for fielding a weakened team and that PL Board decision raised questions about past situations where managers have rotated or rested players in important games yet not been punished.

The Regulations

The PL Board found Wolves guilty of breaching rules B.13 and E.20. B.13 relates to each PL club behaving “towards each other Club and the League with the utmost good faith.” Rule E.20 stipulates that “in every League Match each participating Club shall field a full strength team.” Following the PL Board’s decision there was much debate about how previous instances of heavy rotation had gone unpunished.

Neil Warnock, the ex-manager of Sheffield United whose team were relegated after Liverpool and Manchester United (United) allegedly fielded weaker teams (against teams competing with Sheffield United to avoid relegation in 2007), did not mince his words.

“It’s a disgrace the Premier League even thought about charging them [Wolves]. They didn’t charge United or Liverpool, which were far more expensive mistakes. Have Liverpool been docked points for the team they put out against Fulham or the one Manchester United did against West Ham? I don’t think so somehow.”

There is no accepted definition of what constitutes a “full strength team” and it is clearly a difficult area based on subjective assessments of perceived player quality, rotation, resting players and player injuries.

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About the Author

Daniel Geey

Daniel Geey

Daniel is a Partner in the Sport Group.

Daniel’s practice focuses on helping clients in the sports sector, including rights holders, leagues, governing bodies, clubs, agencies, athletes, sports technology companies, broadcasters and financial institutions.

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