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The Football Association has today sent out its first draft of proposals which seek to reduce the number of non-EU players within English football, by up to 50%.
The Football Association has today sent out its first draft of proposals which seek to reduce the number of non-EU players within English football, by up to 50%.

Earlier this year, the FA's 'England Commission' called for wholesale reform to the system in the belief that too many "mediocre" players were being bought by clubs, simply to fill out their squads.

The proposed rule changes have been sent to the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), and the League Managers' Association (LMA).

The Football Association hopes a new system, if ratified, can be in place for the start of the 2015/16 season.

The Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Football Associations are also in discussion with the FA, with a view to come to terms on a new system

The FA hopes to send an agreed raft of reformed measures to Government ministers before the end of 2014.

According to BBC SPORT, "Up until the end of last season, 122 non-EU players had entered English football since 2009.

"The current rules, called the Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) process, were introduced by the Home Office in 2008 to allow sport governing bodies to manage visa applications of elite players from non-EU countries.

"The criteria states that only sportspersons "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" should be granted a visa.

"However, the Commission believes the number of foreigners in the domestic game are blocking pathways for younger English footballers to develop.

"The FA is attempting to try and increase the pool of talent, with the aim that England will win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar."

The first draft of proposals, include;

  • Restricting GBE visa applications to Premier League clubs only. Currently Football League clubs can also apply and, in the past four years, 23 applications from Football League clubs have been successful.
  • Preventing players brought to Britain through the GBE visa system from being loaned out to other clubs.
  • Reducing the list of countries from which players can apply for GBE visas based on international playing record, from the current 70 top Fifa-ranked countries to the top 50.
  • Easing - from 75% to 30% - the percentage of competitive international matches that players from countries with Fifa ranking in the top 30 must have played in the past two years.
  • Introducing a transfer fee exemption to deliver GBE for elite players from any country, irrespective of Fifa ranking, if the transfer fee exceeds a minimum indexed figure, initially proposed to be £10m or £15m.
  • Scaling back the appeals system so that clubs may only appeal on the basis of incorrect process. In the past appeal tribunals have been required to make subjective judgments on ability, which, it has been claimed, has resulted in nearly 80% of all appeals being successful after failing to meet the initial criteria.
Sources: BBC SPORT, The Football Association.
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