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April 2021

FA caught breaking rules as they plot a reduction in number of overseas players in England

The Football Association currently revealed as breaking even the ludicrously lax Fifa rules about accepting gifts, has sought to deflect attention by pushing through the idea of reducing  the number of non-EU players who can play in England.

The new idea is that Football League clubs would not be allowed to sign non-EU players at all, and the Premier League clubs would not be allowed to bring them in and loan them out, in the fashion particularly of Chelsea.  (Other clubs are also involved in exploiting the loans loophole, but Chelsea with its 20 or so players on loan seems to take it further than everyone else).

Greg Dyke, one man who accepted a £16,000 watch and has now been told to give it back, says he wants to prevent “mediocre” overseas talent from coming to England and stopping English players playing here.

As we’ve shown many times before, and as the national press has gradually accepted, the number of foreign players in a country and the number of one’s own nationals playing within their own country has no impact at all on that country’s performance in internationals.  One only has to look at the Netherlands, where virtually every top player plays overseas, to show that is the case.

But the FA are never ones to let facts get in the way of wild attempts to grab publicity and blame everyone except themselves.

Their idea is that only players from the top 50 Fifa-ranked countries could be signed at over a set fee 0 but for these players there would be no special prohibitive regulations.  Everyone else would be on the cheap.  Clubs would not be able to appeal against FA decisions unless they could show that the process has not been followed.   At the moment 80% of appeals are based on the merit of a player, and most go through.

The current rule means that non-EU players have to be from one of the top 30 ranked countries and must have played in 75% of their country’s competitive games in the previous two years. However, players can be loaned to EU countries which have less strict rules than the UK about gaining citizenship, and so become EU citizens after a year or two playing in Spain or certain other countries.

This situation would thus readily by-pass the new rule for once a player has EU citizenship he can play anywhere in the EU.  To get the citizenship they normally need to be able to speak the language of the host country, which for many South American players is of course not a problem.   But most people find after a year in residence and regular lessons that they can pass nationality language tests.  I am told however French rules are more stringent in terms of an examination in relation to French culture and history.

“The defined criteria are designed to result in visas only for those elite sportspeople who are internationally established at the highest level [and] whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK,” said the FA in a statement.

This is the second major contribution from the FA’s reform commission.  Earlier it had the idea of Premier League reserve teams playing in the Football League, in the way that (for example) Arsenal’s Reserves played in the Southern League for a number of years.  That plan is now being revised to allow Premier League clubs to put their under-21 sides into the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy.  Whether they would want to or not is another matter.

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But meaning one might say the watch is ticking and Greg Dyke has said he will return the £16,000 watch given by Brazilian Football Confederation.  Quite why they gave it to him is unclear – I mean it is not as if the FA has any influence with anyone.

As the BBC said at the time, the issue “raises serious questions over why senior football officials ignored – or were not aware of – the rules governing gifts, and leaves Fifa open to accusations of largesse.”

Sepp Blatter also got a watch.  No one knows where it went.  Michel Platini says he is returning his.  Shame he didn’t do it before the donation was revealed.   Dyke said, “The fact that gifts of great value are being handed out randomly and often with the recipient unaware shows up a culture in need of change. I had actually set the bag aside in my box of items to donate to charity.”

Fifa’s ethics committee (how funny that name sounds) said “The CBF should not have offered the watches, and those who received gift bags should have promptly checked whether the items inside were appropriate and, upon discovering the watch, either returned it or reported the matter.   The Fifa code of ethics plainly prohibits such gifts. Officials may not offer or accept gifts that have more than ‘symbolic or trivial value’.”

But of course, nothing serious ever gets done.  The Fifa committee investigating the matter has said it will not instigate proceedings against officials who return the watches by 24 October.   So break the rules guys, its all ok, for if you get caught you will have an amnesty.


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20 comments to FA caught breaking rules as they plot a reduction in number of overseas players in England

  • bjtgooner

    What are the odds that other gifts have been received and remain undeclared and that the intention is that the undeclared status will remain? Fairly high?

    Or will this “timely” disclosure lead to further revelations?

  • Mike T

    Yes I think that the rules regarding work permits (visas) need to be looked at but tinkering around the edges isn’t the answer.

    The whole system is flawed and should be on a player by player basis and not from where they were born.

    I will give an example. Cape Verde Islands are ranked within the top 50. So any of their players who have played in 75% of that countries competitive games over the last 2 years would qualify for a work permit.

    One such player is a chap called Ianique dos Santos Tavares.

    He is aged 26 and currently is at a club called Videoton in total he has only ever played 120 games the vast bulk of theses were at clubs in either the second or third divisions in Portugal.

    On the flip an George Weah who played for Liberia(ranked 127th in FIFA rankings) and a former FIFA world player of the year would not immediately qualify for a playing visa.

    That would mean that non EU players would have to be deemed as being of exceptional talent and as a result should only be eligible to sign for a PL club. If the club where a non EU player is contracted is relegated that player should be able to see out their contract but not be allowed to sign an extension whilst outside the PL

    Would restricting the number of non EU players increase the number of HG players appearing in the PL? I would doubt it will achieve anything other than attracting more players with EU passports.

    So how would I approach the issue? Well I think the rules are already in place namely only allowing 17 non HG. Clearly there aren’t any issues with this at EU level so I would reduce that 17 down to 16 in say 2015/16 and to 15 and slowly but surely down to what ever number the majority of clubs feel is right.

  • Shard

    Good God.Not this whole ‘they took our jobs’ spiel again. Anytime it seems like England have a genuine chance to build something for the future, they seem to develop cold feet and fall back on the tired and trusted. (not a typo)

    Limiting foreign players simply makes the English products more expensive, more heavily paid, and lower in quality because they have not been forced to compete and prove themselves against the best.

    What stops clubs from using English players is actually the fact that any of them with any talent costs more than anyone of similar talent costs abroad. That, and the fact that the promotion of the win now mentality and managerial terms being cut shorter, prevents any manager from bringing through the youth players.

    An idea out of left field, but one which was used in India, with some success, was playing the nations’s U21 side in the league. If you really want to increase the players, get the national academy going and play a regular schedule of matches against clubs in the PL and Championship (and maybe even European sides). Play against both academy sides and senior sides in equal measure to aid development as well as get them used to needing results. It can be a money spinner as well if done right.

    Simply forcing clubs to have English players in their squads won’t really help. You can be there to simply make up the numbers, and even then, big clubs will get someone old and experienced to play that role. Such as Lampard at City.

  • Shard

    As for the bribery…oh sorry. Gift giving. I think it’s a relatively small thing compared to what else goes on, and is probably the only reason it has come out in the public through fifa. Keeps everybody reasonably happy while giving them a modicum of usefulness and integrity in terms of playing to the gallery.

    I mean, what about the report on the Fifa enquiry on Claus Lundekvam’s revelations over 2 years ago that as Southampton captain, he and many players across the league indulged in spot fixing to try and earn some extra cash? Anything further heard on that? Any note being taken of Abramovich sponsored yacht cruises?

    But they confiscated some watches, so they must be all honest and doing their jobs completely properly and the game is completely clean.

  • Mike T

    @ Shard

    The FAs plans aren’t about limiting the number of player they want to restrict the number of non EU players. Which makes no sense whatsoever.
    The case has never been proven that the flow of top quality foreign players into English football has improved the quality of HG players because they have been able to play against the best indeed the evidence points to the exact reverse.
    I do agree that managers are under intense pressure to succeed and its for that is part of the reason why tightening the rules around HG and even club trained players may well change things for the better. For what is I place now isn’t working at either PL or International level

    I , and lower in quality because they have not been forced to compete and prove themselves against the best.

    What stops clubs from using English players is actually the fact that any of them with any talent costs more than anyone of similar talent costs abroad. That, and the fact that the promotion of the win now mentality and managerial terms being cut shorter, prevents any manager from bringing through the youth players

  • Mike T

    No idea how the last two paragraphs appeared in my last post. Please ingonre them

  • Shard

    Mike T

    I never said that getting better players in automatically improves the quality of HG players. Although I think anecdotal evidence suggests that English players picked up a whole new culture of preparation and training when foreign players started to come in. (The same would apply to foreign players as well, which is why English players moving countries would also help them improve) What I do think is that with better players available, only the better (or cheaper) English players will get into the teams.

    And I am aware that they aim to limit non EU players, but their intention is to increase the pool of English players. They just can’t do it within the law right now. So they limit what they can. Which as you point out, is pretty ridiculous.

    What is in place, ie the homegrown rules, have only been in place for what? 5 years? Why would they have worked in this time? What are they intended to do anyway? Increase the number of domestic players in the league? What does that do?

    I have a problem with the legislative route on that, coming from an organisation which is tasked with developing football. Putting up legal barriers to try and make up for the lack of quality footballers developed in the country is counterproductive in my view.

    As Wenger was asked recently, England have to pick from only 40 football players for their squad from the PL. Is that a problem? His response was that even if you have 400, you will still be picking from 40. Which is more or less true.

    You can force clubs to play local players who aren’t as good as foreign talent, and as a result make it more expensive for them too as you make local talent a greater premium than it already is. But will the overall talent of the league increase, or decline? The FA getting the PL clubs to try and do their job for them is not something that should be condoned. And it won’t help. Clubs will just get in younger players from abroad (even with the gamble, still cheaper than signing an over valued English player), or sign journeymen local footballers, to fill the quotas. And the EPL will lose talent to other leagues. Not just the non EU talent, which in any case we suffer with in South America. But also talent which will have to be squeezed out.

    Quotas don’t work except as a political tool.

  • colario

    Players from abroad are attracted to the Premier League because the money is with a few exceptions better than anywhere else.

    That being so why would English player want to play abroad where the money is not as good as in England?

    Bale went to Madrid for the money and the fact it was Madrid. If Madrid is not always the best club in Europe it is a club that almost everyone wants to play for. Madrid, Barcelona are the ‘top’ clubs to play for and pay the best wages.

    English players stay in the Premier league because that is where the money is.

    Not that long ago the hype was that English players would benefit from having the best players from Europe in the team. That idea having been proved to be a myth, its dropped and a ‘new myth’ is spiited about. Antything but deal with the real issues.

    In this instance the collective noun for the ‘issues’ is ‘corruption’. A corruption of issues, or is it an ‘issue of corruptions’.

    The problems in English football are here because of the corruption in Englsih football.

  • finsbury

    Has Mr.Dyke made any comment on the cuts to grass roots football under his stewardship? The recorded decrease in participants in the national game for the first time in a long time?

    Nope! I thought not. That would be far too sensible and logical. People don’t need spaces to play football, or other stuff.
    Coaches? They don’t matter, the role of coaches is over-rated, which is why I bet Dyke never even went to university.

  • apo Armani

    This word CORRUPTION…how much has infested every single part of human life?? where WILL IT EVER END and HOW?? Conspiracy this, cheating that and Transparency NOWHERE to be seen!!! HUMANITY is SAD!

  • apo Armani

    Ohhhh I forgot GREED !!!

  • Mike T


    I am not sure it was the influx of non HG players that changed the culture I tend to think it was the influx of foreign manages/ coaches that dragged English football forward and from a non Arsenal perspective I think that is Wengers greatest legacy.

    I accept your argument has legs but I guess the point that I am trying to get over is if change is going to be implemented, which seems to be the case then that change needs to be thought through rather than just a knee jerk to a particular issue which in this instance seems to be about players on loan from non EU countries.

    Many on here have suggested that there be a limit to the number of players a club can have out on loan, many have said that the rules as they are need changing. I am ok with all of that and I actually do believe you need agreed rigid quotas which will of course need to dovetail with EU Law.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    The Homegrown rule is problematic… it simple protects mediocrity. Right now many foreign imports are are better and because of the homegrown quotas…cheaper. The way to deal with poor performances of England internationally is to improve the direct instruction of youth players; learn off of the damn foreigners and best them with superior instruction and development. Why reinvent the wheel?…much ink has flowed onto paper in the education world. Improving the direct instruction given by teachers, which takes some money, is the way forward.

  • El Gringo

    One issue that I hardly see addressed is how buying ready-made foreign imports impedes the progress of domestic youngsters. I doubt the problem is that British kids aren’t actually good enough…Southampton and Arsenal are among the clubs proving that actually, there are some very talented British players. The problem is not that “they’re not good enough,” but rather that a British 20 y

  • El Gringo

    Sorry, that posted without my consent! To continue:

    …ear old is very understandably not as good as a foreign 28 year old. So British kids see their progress blocked because managers (fighting for their job) bring in the likes of Cambiasso or Drogba or Falcao, which has knock-on effects on the young players who might have gotten some playing time, but now won’t. Welbeck is lucky in that respect; Jenkinson and the Ox not so much now that Debuchy and Sanchez have come in. Of course the same problem affects young foreign kids (such as Gnabry) as well, but the effect is naturally disproportionate towards British players. We’ve all shaken our heads whenever some up-and-coming player (such as Zaha or Rodwell) sign with a club where we know that they will sit on the bench and watch their talent suffocated by lack of playing time. I doubt the problem is the lack of talent so much as the lack of development.

    Having the all-star, world-class players is probably OK for the league and the national team. Having loads of “mediocre” (in the global context) older players as easy, stop-gap solutions (a la QPR) to freeze out promising youngsters reeks of short-termism and certainly damages the national team without really promoting the interests of the league. Southampton gives its youngsters a chance, and probably not incidentally plays much nicer football than a lot of other clubs around.

    I’m not trying to be xenophobic here. I love watching players like Silva and Ozil. In fact, I’m trying to dispel some of the xenophobic, anti-British-player prejudice that I think infests a lot of the discussion of these issues. It should be a top priority to figure out how to give local talent a fair chance to thrive. Depriving young talent of invaluable match experience by forcing them to compete with mature, already-experienced players of similar talent levels is probably not the best way to do that.

  • El Gringo

    In other words, of course the foreign imports are better. Most of them have spent years on the pitch to become so. And when Falcao comes in aged 28, of course Welbeck goes out aged 23.

  • finsbury

    Martin Keown was on BBC5Live last week.

    He told the hacks he was talking to about his works on grass roots football, published last year. He told them that he had approached the FA and offered to work for them for more or less nothing in helping at that level. He had no reply.

    What was interesting was that the 24/7 Football hacks that he was talking to on the BBC had no idea of this work that that their fellow guest/colleague had done previously, and also they initially did not believe him when he told them of the FA’s response. One of these hacks was Neil “I said he was nicking a living because I couldn’t tell that the athlete was hobbling about on one leg” Ashton, so really no surprise there that given the evidence that tells us he is worse then clueless.

    What was interesting about that nicking a living quote is that the player in question was being played slightly more “wide” then usual because they were not fully fit for that game,a little bit niggled and fatigued. Just the same as now, because as can be seen with other players that went the full distance this summer, they’re not going to be a hundred per cent for a few more games yet. This is nothing Arsenal fans haven’t seen after previous WCs with Key players who played in the finals of finals, and every game of the tournament, who also had niggles etc.* Of course the self-declared Redzone experts are completely aware of these considerations, right? Or has fitness been airbrushed out of this uncredible narrative regarding an athlete?

    *Gilberto couldn’t get back up to speed after a necessary break and rest for fatigue recovery and claim back his spot from Flamini that season, there are so many other examples for the self declared Redzone experts to ignore. And so the transparent and disingenuous scapegoating led by the AAA and their handlers of Özil continues. It is what it is. Blatant. To quote Michael Holding from Fire in Babylon, “It is in your face”.

  • finsbury

    Clough Jnr. on Clough Snr.:

    “It has changed since he was in the game. He still would have been incredibly successful but dealing with the players and the money these days, would have made it more difficult.
    “And agents. Some of the things that go on in football these days, he would have been absolutely dismayed and flabbergasted by. Some of the owners and people that are running clubs and there’s an obscene amount of money in the game but he always looked at people that are running clubs. I think the final straw for him would have been that there are ex-agents getting involved running football clubs.”

    Remind me, why do the 24/7 broadcasters never refer to agents of managers who are specialists in signing players from specific super agents? Instead we can see them constantly attempting and failing to ridicule with their AAA allies the values and practices of football clubs like AFC that according to the likes of John Gregory “represent the best in English Football” at the top of the game.

    Why do the AAA ignore the history of AFC, the sacking of GG, in the transparent and lame xenophobic narrative that they have constructed in order to attack the Arsenal manager?

  • finsbury

    < to agents or managers who are…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A man has six children and is very proud of his achievement.

    He is so proud of himself, that he starts calling his
    wife,” Mother of Six” in spite of her objections.

    One night, they go to a party. The man decides that it IS time to go home
    and wants to find out if his wife is ready to leave as well. He shouts at the top of his voice, “Shall we go home Mother of Six?”

    His wife, irritated by her husband’s lack of discretion,
    shouts right back, “Any time you’re ready, Father of Four.”