Representatives of the 72 English Football League clubs (Championship plus Divisions 1 & 2) held their Annual General Meeting in Vilamoura last weekend. The main topic of discussion was the return to artificial pitches but there was widespread opposition including the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association. Strong support had been anticipated from League One clubs. However, the potential cost of installing an artificial surface (in the region of €600,000) combined with the likelihood that a club would have to replace it with real grass if they won promotion to the Championship are thought to have counted against the idea. Artificial surfaces were banned in 1988 and the last remaining one in the top four divisions – at Preston North End’s Deepdale – was ripped up in 1994. The number of substitutes on the bench will revert to seven, from five allowed last season. Clubs also voted unanimously to support a proposal by Exeter City to encourage sportsmanship and curb gamesmanship during matches. Clubs will tell their managers, coaches and players to avoid showing disrespect towards officials, and diving, time wasting and feigning injury will also be discouraged. Referees will be instructed to take action against players obstructing the quick taking of free-kicks and stealing ground at throw-ins.