AN age old Deepdale joke will be laid to rest at the end of the season when a new Football League rule takes effect.

As of next season, all players will have a squad number which they must stick to all season, complete with their surname on the back of the shirt.

It has long been joked at Deepdale that an American watching a game at PNE thought all the players were called North End because that is what is written on the back of each player's shirt.

Currently, the lower division teams always field players wearing numbers 1 to 11, with the subs wearing 12 to 14.

The change, to bring the Nationwide League in line with the Premiership, would mean substitute keeper David Lucas playing in number 13 as first-choice keeper Teuvo Moilenan wears number one.

Any mid-season loan players or permanent signings would be given spare numbers.

Had the system been adopted this season it would have meant Steve Basham would have a number in the 20s on his back instead of the current number 10 and last minute signing Graham Alexander wouldn't have been able to pick up the number two shirt on his first game.

The numbers can be swapped around at the end of each season.

Manager David Moyes thinks it is just a plot to raise more cash.

He said: "I think the idea is to sell more shirts with names on the back. Some Nationwide clubs already operate such as system and I suppose it will make it less confusing for some spectators."

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