This subject has become a debate between coaches and referees. Perhaps you can shed some light on it.
At the beginning of the game, and at the beginning of the second half the referee will normally count the number of players on the field to ensure they have enough players to begin a game. So question #1, if there are less players than the max allow, but enough players to meet the min requirement, does the referee need to say anything to the coach?
Question #2 In some leagues, they do not allow free subs, but rather break half way through each half to allow subs. In a case where a team has been signaled to return to play, and a coach does not respond by allowing his players to return to the field of play ( without addressing delay of game here ) and the referee decides to signal to begin play… hence the coach now scrambles to release his players, who fault is it that the correct number of players are not on the field of play? If the coach had kept the time to substitution the referees could have confirmed the number of players on the field. But in this case, the ball had been put into play and it was discovered after the restart that the team was short a player ( or in other cases had too many players ).
Is this not the fault of the coach for not communicating to his team properly?
USSF answer (September 28, 2008):
1. The referee should tell the coach that there are enough players to begin and to get them on the field. The referee should also tell the coach that when more players arrive, they should get the attention of the assistant referee on that side of the field, so that the players, their passes (if necessary), and their equipment can be checked for entry into the game.
2. It should never come to this. The referee must manage the break and alert the coaches and captains that the time for restarting is near. Any numbers under the allowed maximum limit of players on the field are the fault of the coach; any numbers over the allowed maximum are the fault of the referee.