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How the 25-man rule can be improved

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How the 25-man rule can be improved (And it is just my opinion)

By Nitesh Padhi

First of all, let’s just clear out the quite confusing 25-man rule. According to the rule,

A home grown player is defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Welsh Football Association for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21).

For the purposes of this rule, the season is deemed to run from the date the first transfer window closes until the final match of the campaign.

In keeping with UEFA guidelines, an Under 21 player is defined as one who is under the age of 21 on

The 25-man squads must be submitted to the Premier League by 5pm on the day following the close of each transfer window.

While the transfer windows are open, clubs may change their squads as many times as they want. However they will only be able to make alterations outside the windows if there are exceptional circumstances and the changes are approved by the Premier League board.

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For example, if a club has two out of three goalkeepers injured they may be permitted to bring in a replacement under the guidelines drawn up by a specially formed working party.

Players in the 25-man squads who go out on loan to Football League clubs may not be replaced. However they may reclaim their place on their return.

Clubs do not have to name a full squad of 25 if they do not have that many contracted players and in this instance they may add free agents outside the transfer window. However if they have 25 eligible contracted players, they must be named.

Similarly, clubs do not have to name eight home grown players if they do not have that many but that would mean operating with a reduced squad.

Ok, now there are a lot of loopholes in there. But the main thing, it is very short sighted. For instance, in the next 5 years, 50+ players from Arsenal’s youth academy are going to graduate and only 4 or 5 will find a place in the squad list. The careers of the others will go downwards and will be destroyed if they don’t find a club fast enough.

Another downside is that the clubs lose a pool of talent every year because they are forced to send the players out on loan. Thus they cannot use them when they need to rest their players during the course of the season. As a result, the general level of the league goes down. Perhaps that is why we are seeing the most poor yet the most competitive league in decades. I am not complaining, but this has resulted in a lot of injuries to key players throughout the season and lengthy spells on the sidelines burned out.

Now how can we improve the situation? One way to do this is by allowing clubs to have a second team playing in the lower leagues. This is a tactic that has been successfully adapted in the La Liga, with Barcelona and Villareal succeeding with their respective ‘B’ teams. The ‘B’ team is not allowed to play in the same division as the first team and is always kept at least 1 division down.

This is a fantasy. There are teams in the premier league who don’t even have a reserve team, let alone manage another first team. Teams like the spuds will no doubt protest against this ruling if it

The best idea to improve the rule is not by setting up another rule, but by tweaking the present rule. Instead of integrating home-grown players into the 25 man-squad, we should separate them from one another. Clubs should be allowed to use any number of home-grown players if they have been affiliated with THAT club only. If they have got the player from another club but he is still home-grown (here home-grown according to the law) then they should be allowed to use any number of them till the age of 25. The other squad, or the ‘foreign’ squad, should be cut down to 20 players, who have been brought in by the clubs and are not home-grown. This does not only make the law eligible for the future, but it rewards clubs who invest in their academies, and don’t resort to cut-throat dealings in the transfer market.

The law was made for the betterment of the English team, but I cannot help but think that this only makes an English first 11, leaving no squad to call upon. Tweaking the law could make it better for the fans, the team and the clubs as one.

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15 comments to How the 25-man rule can be improved

  • Shard

    Good suggestions..Which I’m sure will be completely ignored by the FA..

    I believe that the current laws are not sustainable in the long run. I think they will actually stop this rule soon. Though probably only after Arsenal have lost a good few players to it.

  • kiwigooner

    Are you not discriminating on the basis of Nationality?

    Agree with a second team tho.

  • Wrenny

    I think the squad regulations are a positive move, encouraging clubs to invest in their academies and give their young English players a chance. They might not be perfect, but hopefully the kinks will be ironed out as they pop up. Relaxing the age rules of home-grown players as Nitesh suggests would be a good move, otherwise those clubs whose academies are TOO successful are being punished, and forced to release potentially talented players at the relatively young age of 21, especially when it comes to defenders and goalkeepers.

    Off-topic and returning to the Blackburn game: Phil Dowd sent off yet another black player, surprise surprise! He lets Carragher and Barton get away with shocking legbreakers (white and English); and sends off Song, Diaby and Nzonzi for far, far less (black, foreign). I would love to see Dowd’s stats for this, I bet they would make interesting reading.

  • Wrenny

    About the idea of B teams in the lower leagues, I think the concept is a good one but I’m not sure it would work as well in England as it does in Spain. Spanish football is very technical, and from watching Botelho play in the Segunda it seems that the technical level remains high, but there’s a physical drop from La Liga. Not quite the same speed and strength, and that lends itself for young players honing their game.

    English football is the opposite, the technical level drops but the power and strength remains just as high as you go down the leagues. I’m not sure how an Arsenal B side made up of skillful but possibly fragile 18-20 year olds would handle Championship/League One football, and for no less than 46 matches…

  • Dan

    I have a better way of improving the 25-man rule: Any player with the following names shall be excluded from the 25-man list for Premier League squads: Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Emmanuel Eboué, Sebastien Squillaci, Laurent Koscielny, Denílson, Abou Vasiriki Diaby, Tomas RoSICKy, Niklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh.

    I think if the Premier League adopted the above amendment to the rule, Arsenal would be much, much better off!

  • Nitesh

    @kiwigooner nowhere in this article have i tried to discriminate against anyone. I apologise if you think so.

  • simon james

    mate whats your excuses for that pathetic team this week eh, talking about a load of old crap about the 25 man rule!!!!!!!!!! quality

  • Marcus

    Apropos of nothing and everything:

    Arsene is finally making serious noises:

    Arsene Wenger has questioned the Premier League schedulers after all but one of his side’s remaining games will be played on a Sunday.

    The Gunners will play seven of their last eight matches on a Sunday whereas title rivals Manchester United only have three games on the Sabbath. It means Arsenal will struggle to exert much pressure ahead of United’s games.

    Wenger told ESPN: “There are a lot of things going on which I don’t want to talk about.

    “I have been here for 15 years, I know how things work. I want to be completely neutral, like I have to be. I am not involved in any decision. I do not do the schedule.”

    Following Saturday’s disappointing goalless draw with Blackburn, the Gunners sit seven points behind the league leaders with one game in hand.

    And, despite acknowledging that drawing each of their last three Premier League fixtures has not helped his side’s title chances, Wenger said:

    “I look when do we play? It is on Sunday until the end of the season, but I do not want to speak about anything else like we look for an excuse about our performance.

    “We have not been good enough, which is the main information of the Blackburn game, and we have to worry about being better in our next game. I have no influence on the fixtures, the referees, not on anything else here.”

  • Shard


    I think Wenger has hinted at something deeper going on, namely what Untold cover, 1 or 2 times this season. I think it was the aftermatch of the Sunderland draw that he said that those sort of decisions have too big an impact in the premier league, and it’s not the first time.. Something like that.. The manner he said it in made me feel like he knew something was not right. That basically, there was outright corruption. The sheer amount it has reached this season is actually just beyond belief.

    Here he’s hinting at it again. I really do think something has to give in that regard. I had said before, that at the end of the season, if such a pattern continues, Wenger will give us at least a subtle accusation that the title was unfairly decided, if not fixed outright. It’s not the first time it’s happened to us either. Wenger meanwhile, has faced it in France of course.

    But what should give even the doomers hope, is that he’s also been talking tough about his players recently. I do think he has lost patience with some of them. But for the moment of course, it’s all hands to the pump.

  • wembley79

    This article doesn’t even explain the 25 man rule properly.

    This link explains the rules

    I see it as follows:
    Home Grown and under 21 plasyers are going to be indemand
    Under 21s are going to be in demand – we will be able to loan them out easily
    Although you have to register a 25 man squad, you can use an unlimited number of under 21s in your team
    Our squad conforms to this test easily.
    We stand to benefit financially from this, without being penalised in sporting terms.

    I don’t see the problem.

  • Marcus

    I think Wenger has always been aware of certain biases.

    But apparently when Dein was around, he was our player at the table.

    Since Dein’s departure, things have seriously deteriorated.

    But wenger’s hands are tied…if he outright calls the FA a crock, they will only kick his backside more….

    He is trying to do the best for his players….if he goes into outright war with the FA…he may get some personal and moral satisfaction…he may even eventually somehow overcome the establishment, (Maybe)..but his team will suffer in the short run.

    Look what happened when Fabregas called the refs a bag of chocolate teapots…Dowd went to war with us the next match.

  • Shard


    I think the problem comes 2-4 years down the line. When all the 17-19 year olds have to be included in the squad, or let go. 21 really isn’t an age to say that the player will not be good enough. So the 21 y/o who might become good in the future will have to be let go.

  • Shard


    I agree with pretty much everything you say. I really don’t know how Wenger deals with it, or indeed what he should do. But it’ll be the 2nd time in 4 seasons that we would have been cheated out of the title.. SOMETHING surely has to be done..

  • wembley79


    Sure,we will have to let some go, but we are still allowed to have 25 men in our squad (all of whom could be home grown)

    I don’t see any club that is better placed to reap maximum benefit from this rule than us, after all, the 21 year olds that we do let go will be in demand as one of the 8 home growns that other squads will need. There is also nothing that says we can’t send any with potential abroad for a couple of years on loan, in order for them to mature

  • Shard


    I agree with you there, as to us being the best placed to cope. My fear is that it’ll actually mean that other clubs will reap the benefits of our academy, not because we want to let those players go, but because we’d be forced into doing so..A lot of genuine talent would be lost to us only because we won’t be able to keep them for the extra year or two that may be required for them to break into the first team.

    I also thought of the loan option, but would a player of 21, really want to spend 2-3 years out on loan? Wouldn’t he more likely just demand a transfer?