English FA To Restrict Foreigners

The English FA has announced a package of proposals aimed at reducing by 50 percent the number of players from outside the European Union who enter English football.

This is to make 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 ($16.33 or $24.50 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.

FA chairman Greg Dyke said the reforms were part of an overhaul of English soccer 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.

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.

The English game’s governing body said it hoped the new system would apply for the 2015-16 season.