Amateur footballers across Norwich are preparing for a significant change to the way they play their beloved game after clubs voted in favour of a trial rule change.

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Clubs in the Evening News and Copy IT-backed Norwich and District Sunday Football League voted in favour of using five rolling substitutes in games as part of a trial being offered by the Norfolk FA.

This means that from next season substitutes will be able to repeatedly go on and off the field during the game, in the same way that is used in five-a-side leagues.

Previously Sunday clubs were allowed to name five substitutes, but were only allowed to use three of them, and when someone had been taken off they were not allowed back on the field again.

Shaun Turner, chief executive of Norfolk FA, told the league’s annual general meeting on Tuesday night that the move was part of a drive from Fifa aiming to raise participation and stop people from leaving the game.

He said: “The person who is a sub is walking away from the game really disappointed. Perhaps this will entice more people into the game so they can have more time on the pitch.”

Clubs voted 60-23 in favour of the rule change, however a number of team representatives voiced concerns about the change to the rules, particularly that it could be misused with numerous substitutions made to waste time.

Mr Turner said: “It will really be down to the match official. The referee is the arbitrator of subs and does not have to let that substitution go ahead.

“I don’t think people are going to abuse the system.”

He added that the two-year trial system would be reviewed after one year and that if it was not working, the decision could be reversed in next year’s meeting.

Mr Turner also said that when referees have a meeting before the season they will discuss how it can be implemented correctly.

The county cups, which the Sunday teams are all involved in, will allow three rolling substitutes.

League chairman Paul Ballard said the committee had backed the recommendation.

He said: “The positive side of looking at this is how many times have you used your only sub and someone has got injured and you’ve had to play with 10 men. With rolling they will be able to go back on the pitch.”

The FA is also asking other amateur leagues across Norfolk if they want to trial the system and they are expected to make their decisions at their annual meetings.

Yesterday Jack Browne asked people in Norwich what they thought of the rule change:

Rev Janet Wire, 54, an associate priest at St Peter Mancroft Church, said: “I know nothing about football, but I support anything that helps to encourage more people to keep taking part in team sports, and feel like they have an important role to play.”

Patrick Keely, 46, of Earlham Road, Norwich, said: “If players are getting disillusioned from just standing on the touchline watching others play, I can’t see why people wouldn’t want this change.

“It wouldn’t work at professional level, but its all about getting people involved in the amateurs.”

Joe Cousins, 19, of Hingham, said: “I think it would be great, they introduced it in rugby at the lower levels and its really increased participation.

“But I guess it would be harder to do in football as it’s a much more mainstream sport.”

Miles Rogers, 18, of Norwich, said: “It might encourage me to play, and I think it would definitely encourage other younger people to play too.”

What do you think of having five rolling subs? Comment below or write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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