By Mark Chaplin in Nyon
UEFA has unveiled proposed new rules on locally trained players to the public and European football family.
The UEFA Executive Committee presented the proposed regulations, which would apply to future UEFA club competitions, to the conference of presidents and general secretaries of UEFA's member associations held today at the European governing body's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
Official approval to come
UEFA has also asked its 52 member associations to consider applying the same rule for their domestic competitions. The proposals will now be presented to the national associations for official approval at the UEFA Ordinary Congress in Tallinn, Estonia in April.
Squad places reserved
The 'A' list that teams submit for UEFA club competitions will continue to be limited to 25 players, and from season 2006/07, at least two places on this list will be reserved for players trained by the club's own football academy and a further two places for players trained by other clubs from within the same association of the said club. The 'B' list will also continue to exist - involving an unlimited number of Under-21 players who have been at the club for two seasons.
Target for 2008/09
In the following two seasons, one additional place for a club-trained and one additional place for an association-trained player will be reserved on the 'A' list, so that by the 2008/09 season, each club will have in its 25-man squad four club-trained and four association-trained players.
A club-trained player is defined as a player who has been registered for a minimum of three seasons with the club between the age of 15 and 21, whereas an association-trained player is a player who has been registered for at least three seasons by the club or by other clubs affiliated to the same association of the said club between the age of 15 and 21.
The proposals have been revealed after a lengthy consultation process between UEFA and clubs, leagues, national associations, players' bodies, coaches, European political authorities and politicians, and national governments. "We think [the proposal] is a reasonable compromise based on all the consultations we have had, " said UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson. "Although we have had negative responses from some leagues and some bigger clubs in those leagues, all the others involved have been very supportive of this idea. We also think the proposal is legal, because it is a sporting rule, not a restriction, to develop and promote young players."
The proposals have been made after UEFA identified a number of perceived negative trends in European football - lack of incentive in training players, lack of identity in local/regional teams, lack of competitive balance, "hoarding" of players and related problems for national teams.
UEFA also commissioned an economic study that identified a tendency towards less competitive balance in UEFA club competitions and domestic leagues, an increased link between money and sporting success and for clubs to play fewer local-trained players. The proposals aim to provide more incentive for clubs to train their own players, as well as for the restoration of a competitive balance, firstly at UEFA club competition level, and then at national level if associations accept and implement UEFA's recommendations.
'Something has to be done'
"It seems that as a result of the conference today, most of the associations will now introduce similar schemes in their own domestic competitions," said Mr Olsson. "I think everybody recognises that something has to be done."
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