How Football League finances can benefit from new quota rules
Premier League clubs are now required to name squads of 25 players, eight of whom must be homegrown. Clubs are permitted to select a maximum of 17 foreign players, while there are no limits on the number of under-21 players.
The quota system is designed to encourage youth development and, particularly pertinently following a disappointing World Cup campaign, to offer greater opportunities for young English talent. Premier League clubs voted to introduce the system last September, meaning managers have had a year to prepare for its implementation.
Clubs are required to submit their 25-man lists to the Premier League by 5pm on the day after the close of each transfer window. This summer, the window shuts at 6pm on 31st August, so final lists must be handed over by 5pm on 1st September.
It is hoped that the beneficiaries will be young English players and, as an eventual result, the England national team. To get around the rules, managers will be forced to turn to youth, giving academy graduates more opportunity to play in the top flight, rather than sitting on the sidelines or being loaned out to lower league clubs.
The long-term aim
With English players enjoying greater opportunities at club level, the hope is that future England managers will have a bigger pool of players to choose from. There is also likely to be an increase in players available on loan from the bigger clubs with large squads.
Clubs in the lower reaches of the Premier League may be able to pick up some big names. This has already been seen this week with Cardiff City’s capture of Manchester City’s Welsh international Craig Bellamy on a season-long loan deal.
The short-term explanation
According to the Premier League, a homegrown player is “one who, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Welsh FA for a period of three seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday”.
To give two opposing examples, Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas qualifies as homegrown, as he moved to England from Barcelona’s youth system at the age of 16. England international Owen Hargreaves, however, does not make the grade, because he spent his youth with German club Bayern Munich.
Come January, a club may sign new players, as long as they give the Premier League 24 hours’ notice before games. Squad sizes must stay at 25, so a player must be removed to accommodate any new signing.
What it means for us
So why is this subject on a blog relating to the Football League? Because, in my opinion, the new quota rules will affect the managerial and financial strategy in the Football League. Logically, with Premiership clubs having to include younger homegrown players in their squads, fewer will be available for loan out to the Lower Leagues.
This affects some managers and clubs more than others. For example, Nigel Pearson is an assiduous user of Premiership loans. He has already turned to Tottenham’s John Bostock to boost numbers at his new club Hull City, following a series of well-timed temporary top-flight captures at his previous club Leicester.
One of the players Pearson signed on loan for the Walkers Stadium side, Sunderland’s Martyn Waghorn, looks set to stay at the Stadium of Light at least until January despite interest from Championship clubs. This demonstrates the effect of the new rules because Waghorn is under 21 and can feature in Steve Bruce’s plans this season without having to be included in the Black Cats’ 25-man squad.
The future for the Football League
The knock-on of fewer of tomorrow’s stars being available to gain experience lower down the ladder is that younger players at Football League clubs will themselves get the opportunity earlier than may previously have been possible.
This, in the long term, might re-open what has become a very dormant transfer market in terms of players moving from the Football League to the top flight. Not only will these players come to clubs’ attention at an earlier stage, but Premier League clubs will keep an even closer eye on homegrown talent than they have in the past.
After years of investment in Football League youth systems, for often minimal return in an era of foreign imports at the highest level, good times may be just around the corner for younger Football League players and, perhaps equally importantly in these worrying financial times, the bank manager too.
Written by: Rich Prew