The English FA has announced a package of proposals aimed at reducing by half the number of players from outside the European Union who enter English football and making it easier for home-grown players to succeed.
In a consultative paper, as required by the British Home Office legislation that covers visa applications by footballers, the FA on Wednesday put forward six detailed changes it hopes to see made to the current Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) system.
These include restricting GBE applications to Premier League clubs, banning loans for these players and restricting the list of countries permitted to use the system to the top 50 in FIFA’s rankings, unless a transfer fee of more than a specified sum – £10 or 15 million pounds ($18 or $27 million) – is paid.
The plans would have a direct impact on the lower tiers of English football, below the Premier League, and the import of players from Africa, Asia and North and South America, including Argentina and Brazil.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said the reforms were part of an overhaul of English football being recommended by the England Commission think tank and added that a further announcement of proposed changes, aimed at stimulating the England national team’s performances, will follow in October.
“Everyone recognises the present system is bust,” Dyke told Sky Sports News. “The rules say elite non-European players – the very best – should be allowed to come in and we agree with that.
“What we are saying is there are a lot that aren’t (the very best), that don’t play that much and do take squad places and a lot, particularly in the Football League, disappear after a year or so. The system doesn’t work at the moment.
“What we are saying is, ‘Let the best players come in, but give the rest of those squad places to young English kids’ .
“We still have the problem of good kids aged 17 and 18 and they are not getting enough competitive football. So, we are still looking at how to improve that position.”
In its statement, the FA said the GBE system was introduced by the Home Office in 2008 to allow sport governing bodies to manage a systematic objective approach for endorsing visa applications of elite players from non-EU countries.
The defined criteria are designed to result in visas only for those elite sportspeople “who are internationally established at the highest level whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK”, the FA said on www.thefa.com.
It also revealed that 23 applications from Football League clubs for GBE visas had been successful.
The plan also suggested easing the required proportion of competitive international matches that players from the top 30 FIFA ranked nations must have played in the past two years from 75 percent to 30 percent.
The FA said it will initiate a consultative process with leagues and national and professional associations before returning to the Home Office with a final paper later this year.
The English game’s governing body said it hoped the new system would apply for the 2015-16 season.
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