The Premier League have announced that they have tightened rules on what qualifies a club as eligible for a postponement in the wake of a plagued season that highlighted potential loopholes in their old legislation.
21 games were postponed, while Liverpool's Carabao Cup tie with Arsenal was also rearranged following Melwood training ground being forced to close amid a COVID-19 scare just days before the initial date.
However, the most controversial postponement came after Arsenal's request to push back their clash with Tottenham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in January, after just a single COVID-19 case and while simultaneously letting players leave the club mid-season.
It was something that Tottenham railed against in an extraordinary club statement, claiming that "The original intention of the guidance - here - was to deal with player availability directly affected by COVID cases, resulting in depleted squads that, when taken together with injuries, would result in the club being unable to field a team.
We do not believe it was the intent to deal with player availability unrelated to COVID.
We may now be seeing the unintended consequences of this rule."
Now, the rules have been updated to mitigate against this, with the governing body warning that "Approval will only be granted where the impact of player unavailability on a club’s squad is truly exceptional and where the club concerned has taken all reasonable steps to avoid the necessity to make the application."
With a World Cup also on the horizon, it could well mean that clubs require even larger squads, while youth players could also feature more prominently with the introduction of five substitutes.
The statement in full
"Ahead of Season 2022-23, the Premier League Board has revised its guidance for match postponements relating to insufficient players.
This will replace the previous COVID-19 match postponement guidance, providing a standard process for applications.
Club requests to the Premier League Board will continue to be considered on their facts and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Approval will only be granted where the impact of player unavailability on a club’s squad is truly exceptional and where the club concerned has taken all reasonable steps to avoid the necessity to make the application.
The detail within all applications will continue to be scrutinised by the League’s specialist staff before the Board makes its decision.
The League’s postponement rules and guidance are designed to protect the wellbeing of players and staff, while maintaining the sporting integrity of the competition and the quality of squads playing League matches."