50% of EPL teams are on the edge with the 25 rule

By Tony Attwood

I do enjoy it when Untold manages to get a bit ahead of the game.  We’ve been debating  the 25 rule for months, have gone through various interpretations, looked at what the official EPL rules say, doubted the comments on the Arsenal web site, and generally munched the whole thing over a bit.

Now, quite a bit later, the rest of the world is catching up and “25” is the discussion point.

We’ve meandered around the Arsenal list until there is nowhere else to meander – we know we’ve got loads of spaces for foreign players, but that these could well be taken up by our “home grown” kiddies in January, when they start to turn 21.   That to me looks like a decent bit of planning.

Such planning doesn’t seem to be the case elsewhere.   Either there’s going to be no transfer dealings to talk of, or a lot of players are going to be off-loaded to anyone, or even kept out of the “25” while being paid.

And this is really the issue.  The 25 list means that you do have to plan.  You have to limit your squad, check the origins of the players, and look at who is coming up through the reserves.

Of course for the Tiny Totts, Fulham and clubs like that, the final point is no issue, because they don’t have reserves.  But even for them, there is a problem in that if you get caught near the 25 mark, and you need to buy someone to “strengthen the defence” to use the technical terminology, you have a problem.

Naturally you can toddle off to the football supermarket and buy someone but, that means you have to drop someone else.  Fine, if you can drop that person into the transfer market, but if no one wants to buy you either have to cut your losses (and I think there will be some real losses going on) or you have to put players out to grass (almost literally).   But he still has to be paid £50k a week or whatever it is.

To do the simplest of summaries, you can have 25 players aged over 21 on the qualifying date, and 17 of these can be foreign grown. (And yes I know it is more complex than that, but as I say, we’ve done this one so often that I really can’t go over it all again.  Go into “The Players” section on the home page and you’ll find the articles with the definitive rules and list.)

Here’s a little starter: which club has the lowest number of players ready to be registered in the “25”?   Answer Blackpool with 17.

Who has got the lowest number of foreign players.  Answer Blackpool with 3.

Arsenal meanwhile have 19 players out of 25, of whom 14 are foreign grown.  But as I say, we need space for Theo and the rest, who even as I speak are getting older.

So, I ask, who is in trouble – or at least, teetering on the brink?  Remember the rule is 25 players, 17 foreign.

Over the limit already

Wolverhampton Wobbleyou have 26/10, (rather careless really) and so have to cut.

Manchester Arab are of course a basket case – they care current rating 31/16, so even without another purchase they have to ditch six players, five of whom need to be aliens.

The Stoke Disgrace are on 26/7 most of whom are called Shawcross.  So they have to get rid of one and just be ok but would then still have no room to muck about by buying other homicidal maniacs.

Wigan, perhaps surprisingly, are on 24/18 – so they will have to drop on foreign chappie.

Getting close to the edge

The KGB in Fulham are on 21 / 16, so if they are going to expand the squad, it will be mostly with home growners.  Not their style and I am still not convinced that their youth set-up is fully functional these days.

Fulham Al Fahed are on 25/12, so The Oooooze, who has taken over the club has got to sell or drop if he buys.  I suspect he’ll blame everyone else.

Notlob W are on 25 / 11 – so they too will have to sell to buy.

Liverpool Insolvency are oddly on 23 /17 which means they have space for a couple more home grown players, but all the news everyday they are buying more johnny foreigners (to quote Lord Sugar on Dennis Bergkamp).  The key factor for them is that they are run by RBS and RBS want their money back, so everything for them is survival, until they find a backer.

Man IOU are on 25/12 so they are full – but if they sell they have lots of room for foreign red devils.

The Tiny Totts, never very good at counting, as our recent reviews of their finances have shown, are on 25/11 – which is bad news for Arry given his usual wheeling and dealing at the end of the each transfer window.  If he buys he’s got to sell, but at least he can buy foreigners – although he is known not to like people who don’t speak his form of Gibber.

The other teams in the league have got two places or more both in the squad as a whole and in the number of foreign grown players they can bring in.

Quite interesting eh?

Oh well, please yourself.

But if you didn’t find that interesting you can always read about Arsenal’s re-birth 100 years ago in the glorious “Making the Arsenal” or you read about how the Tiny Totts have stolen history, twisted it, and made it look as if Arsenal were the baddies.  Next up in the series is how Tottenham became the first franchised football club – hopefully up later Sunday, monday at the latest.

And then there’s the full statement from Cesc on Barca – that’s worth a gander.  And the rest.

22 Replies to “50% of EPL teams are on the edge with the 25 rule”

  1. interesting article, I wonder what effect injuries will have on these squads I know wenger came out recently saying he wasnt fan

  2. I’m personally a fan of this rota because it’ll go towards levelling the playing field and it should shaft Chelsea and City somewhat with their hoarding antics. So I’m all for it.

  3. Hey just read a news that Man Arab are planning to sell our “favorite” Adebyore…well thats one foreign less for them…

  4. Close, We currently have only 12 foreign players over the age of 21 and we also have 8 home grown over the age of 21, therefore the maths for us is simple, without anymore sales we could sign up to 5 more players over 21 either home grown or foreign. That could change if say Almunia and Simpson move on.

    However, next season we will have 6 more players (Vela, Walcott, Gibbs, Traore, Randall, Botelho) that will no longer qualify for the U21 rule, all are home grown.

    Its the folowing season that will get really interesting when no less than 9 more youngsters (Ramsey, Eastmond, Sczcesney, JET, Lansbury, Nordveit, Barazite, Hoyte, Murphy) will become home grown.

    Managing this progression is going to become a real headache, especially for the clubs where success is a must, imagine, over the next 2 seasons We will have 15 players adding to our current list of 20, meaning that even without new signings, 10 of our current list of pros will need to be sold or loaned out

  5. Hey Tony!!

    Great Post as always! I have read all of ur posts regarding the 25-rule through out the summer…just to curb my enthusiasm and restlessness, i was hoping if you could clarify a few points for all of us regarding the 25 player rule

    1) Is it mandatory to register 25 players? Can a club register less then 25 players?

    2) If Arsenal registers LESS then 25 players..does the required number of HG players decrease accordingly or it stays as 8?

    3) u-21 players are exempted from the list..but just to fill up HG numbers..can Arsenal register the likes of Walcott and Gibbs in the 25 squad as first team players or will they have to wait till the january transfer window?

    4) According to my count, our first team above 21 Home Grown players are 7 (1-Fabregas,2-Denilson,3-Song,4-Bendtner,5-Djourou,6-Clichy,7-Mannone)…So, i reckon we just need ONE more Home-grown player!! My personal opinion would be to loan a home grown player till the january transfer window and then Walcott and Gibbs can step in 🙂


    Tony, I dont expect you to answer all of the questions but your expert opinion on any of the above questions/points will be appreciated!

    Go Gunners!!

  6. I give this rule 1, maybe 2 seasons at most before the big clubs start flexing their muscles and either get the rule scrapped (citing various legal restrictions to trade etc) or get the 25 man squad limit scrapped and come up with something more workable like “no limit on squad size but clubs must have at least 15 home grown players in their 1st team squads” or something along those lines.
    I can understand why the premier league/FA would want to encourage more home grown players etc, but it is very clear that this rule (and its long term ramifications) has not been thought through properly.

  7. I just wonder: when the rule was agreed everyone was thinking this would be a total disaster for Arsenal. And maybe this was the final push in the back (the thinking it would heart Arsenal) to get everyone to agree with the rule.

    But now it does look like Arsenal are very comfortable with it and will be for many seasons thanks to the youth academy, it could well be that this fact will help to get rid of the rule again in a season (or 2)?

  8. “edit: it would hurt Arsenal”. Sorry have to get used to my own keyboard again. 😉

  9. Is it a most that you must have 17 foreign players or at least a maximum of it.Because I see no reason why Blackpool should be in trouble if they dont want to sign foreign players. It shouldn’t be mandatory in my opinion and rather the 8 home grown should be rather.your article is obscure in my understanding.

  10. 1) Is it mandatory to register 25 players? Can a club register less then 25 players?

    I have not seen anything that says you have to list 25 – so no problem for us – or indeed Blackpool.

    2) If Arsenal registers LESS then 25 players..does the required number of HG players decrease accordingly or it stays as 8?

    The number of non-home-grown can’t be more than 17 – that seems to me to be the key element of the rule. So you could have a squad of 17, all alien, and leave it at that.

    But, I believe a new list has to be submitted at the end of the January transfer window, and I think that does a new calculation as to age, so that is the moment when some of our kiddies get brought into the equation.

  11. Tony,am not particular about arsenal am talking in general you can simply have a list of 25 home grown players without a single non-home grown and that is my point.The point of the rule is about home grown so there shouldn’t be a thing like a team with the list foreign or non home grown players because it is EPL and any club can name a list of 25 home grown players without a single foreigner so certainly there should be nothing like the rule meeting up with 17 players who must be foreign however you must not register more than 17 foreign players. I just feel your article is a tad confusing rather than educative.From a sane perspective the 25man rule should not be a mandatory but the limit to how many player a club can register for a particular season thus giving raise to the number of home and non home grown players registration subjective to the total number of players a club decides to register.The game is played by 11men and 7 substitute so a club can just cut their coat according to length of their material(finance considering the rule).

  12. Vela, Walcott, Gibbs, Traore, Randall, Botelho, Ramsey, Eastmond, Sczcesney, JET, Lansbury, Nordveit, Barazite, Hoyte, Murphy… in 2 years time all of them will be over 21.!

    Managing this progression is going to become a real headache, especially for the clubs where success is a must, imagine, over the next 2 seasons We will have 15 players adding to our current list of 20, meaning that even without new signings, 10 of our current list of pros will need to be sold or loaned out..

    good point bc. i am worried already! older players like rosicky will go, arshawin will go, almunia should go now. fabinaski should go now. this is too tricky… too many logistics. i dont know if the epl has thought over this in the longer run.

    this will certainly and most definitely stop the transfer saga in years to come. and many many clubs will have to sell players they dont wannna sell. and will go in loss… this is just ridiculous!

  13. after reading above article and some research mancity look good! so they have basically a 1st team strong 17 foreign players. who are all 1st team material. but as they have cash they can make them sit on the bench. hmmm!

  14. This rule must favour teams with good youth development. Or rather, it’s the teams with good youth development that will suffer the least. The rule is of course not beneficial to any team. It looks as if we won’t have any trouble comming up with 8 good homegrown players to include into our squad, for the forseeable future. We will probably have to sell players, but that’s something we’re used to. I believe players will expire in the same rate we produce them.

  15. The age should be 23 or 24 i think. Considering any 21 year old that isn’t the finished product will have to be sold early now. Its no good for them and will work against them. Darren Fletcher has forged a very respectable career at Utd but didn’t really come through till he was mid twenties. For example, we have Lansbury, who we all want to see play for our club. He deserves it and we deserve it. But in front of him in centre mid we have Fabregas, Song, Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson, Wilshire, Frimpong, Ramsey, even Nasri can be included and they are all young (except Rosicky). Thats 10 players fighting for 3 spaces.

    Plus not everyone can be huge and strong at 21. I’m 25 and still my body refuses to put on any weight. The premiership and england are already over reliant on super quick and strong players with no talent, technical players will lose out.

    I’m not totally against squad control, but 21 is a poor age to settle at and puts too much pressure on young players. If i was a professional footballer who had lots of talent but was told i was too weak for the rough and tumble of the premiership and on turning 21 would be shoved out the door, i would consider taking extra substances trying to beef myself up as i would fear that my dream would be falling away. These issues will arise as well, which is bad for the nation and the sport.

    As people have stated, today at Arsenal we are good on these rules, but when the all destroying youth double winning team turns 21 we have to destroy something. Either the older players who have served us well, or the younger players we’ve worked so hard to create.

    We wouldn’t be able to keep a Keown, Bergkamp or Adams for as long as we did, which is a shame as we want true experienced club men in our teams.

    I’d say that this rule is brilliant for 20 year olds wanting game time, but can destroy the career of 21 year olds in an instant.

    Plus our youth is better than others, therefore when players turn 21 at Arsenal and have to be sold, other clubs will steal them. Essentially its our investment and hard work that will prop up the other clubs who still aren’t producing for the English game.

    They want to improve the national team, easy. Clubs must make money rule number 1. Number 2 25% of outgoings must be spent on youth development. Number 3 youth squads must have 90% of players being english (or be able to play for England).

    My final issue is citizenship, i’m not a fan of people swapping nations. I dont want Almunia to play for England for example. It defeats the object of international football, each nations best against the other. So lets say Man City have a foreign fella on their cards who has been over here for 5 years and not represented their home nation. City buy another foreign chap, they then tell this other fella, if he wants to stay there, on 80k a week, and play football, then he should become a citizen. We’ll eventually have a England team of Brazilians (we’d win the World Cup but it sort of spoils it a bit don’t you think!)

    Rant pretty much over

  16. 1 more, and as the date is the 1st of Jan of the season to which the player must be under 21, imagine 2 players coming through the youth together, 1 born on the 31/12 the other 01/01. So the younger gets to stay in the squad for another whole year to prove himself and improve, the other gets moved on, and loses out, despite being essentially the same age. The difference in their careers due to 1 day, perhaps early labour, or a doctor with a dodgy watch!!!

    Whats quite interesting is that most youth players are born from September to Jan as they are a bit more developed than those born in July August, they get picked out by schools and scouts etc as being good for their age. Now however perhaps scouts wont want people born before January, or maybe all these kids simply wont be ready at 20 and a half years old and get shipped out.

    Very poor rule.

  17. I think this is a ridiculous rule, players should be allowed to play because of quality not due to their passport.

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