EPL

Klopp critical of Premier League for 'ignoring' player welfare

By Sports Desk December 04, 2020

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has accused the Premier League of ignoring the mental and physical welfare of players with its refusal to sanction five substitutions.

The issue was neither raised nor discussed at a Premier League shareholders' meeting this week despite Klopp and other managers, such as Manchester United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, regularly highlighting the issue.

Clubs had previously been allowed to make five changes during the restart last season, but the Premier League twice voted against continuing it before the start of the current campaign.

The English Football League has since voted to allow managers to make five subs if needed, with the rule already in place in the Champions League and elsewhere in Europe.

Klopp again spoke at length on the subject at a media conference on Friday ahead of Liverpool's Premier League fixture with Wolves.

"I was not surprised because I knew about it. I think that information speaks for itself, nobody thought it would go through," Klopp said of the meeting.

"I told you the facts that if we would have voted in the managers' meeting, which we were not allowed to, then it would have been through, 100 per cent, with 15 or 16 votes.

"That it didn’t happen since then is obviously a sign that some shareholders see it differently to their managers.

"That's not really a good sign as it shows that these people really ignore the player welfare. The coaches don't do that but these people do it.

"If we don't have a chance to vote for it then we have to accept it for the moment, but because it's about player welfare – mental health and player welfare, it's a whole package.

"We will not stop fighting for it because it’s just the right thing to do."

Klopp claimed England will suffer from player burnout at next year's European Championship if the issue is not addressed.

The German also maintained that Liverpool were not seeking an advantage on the pitch, despite the club's injury problems this season, but simply looking after the best interests of all players.

"Next summer it will become a problem for Gareth Southgate," he added.

"Because all the players Gareth wants to pick, most of them play three times a week and will do that from February on again, so Gareth will get what we can give him.

"If they stick with three subs, it becomes an FA problem. [Fulham manager] Scott Parker mentioned in the managers' meeting that for Fulham three subs is better because five would be an advantage for bigger squads.

"But he doesn't think we should vote on it. He thought the Premier League or FA should decide on it."

Klopp continued: "It is not about Liverpool. It's about all the players and load-management, and nothing else. Not to get an advantage, but to deal with the problem of the COVID-19 situation in the best possible way.

"We cannot just ignore it because some people say it would be an advantage for others. It would not be an advantage; I cannot say it often enough. It's not about Liverpool.

"It's just the right thing to do. I'm pretty sure all the teams have to play now every three days from now on. It will be massive for all teams, everybody will feel the difference to other seasons."

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