The number of foreign players permitted in Premier League squads could be cut from 17 to 12 if a proposal from the FA on how to navigate Brexit is approved. The plans, which will be presented to the 20 Premier League chairmen on Thursday, would oblige top tier clubs to ensure at least half of their 25-man squad is ‘homegrown’.
Informal discussions on how to deal with Brexit when Premier League clubs are so reliant on freedom of movement for European talent have been ongoing for months.
The FA and the Premier League are understood to be keen to come to an agreement quickly to avoid a situation where all EU players have to fulfil the same criteria as non-EU players do now in order to get a work permit.
Clubs are currently allowed up to 17 overseas players in their squads but the FA’s proposal would reduce that number by five, to 12.
It would significantly alter the composition of many clubs, including title holders Manchester City which have the maximum number of foreign players. A further four clubs have 16 non-homegrown players among their number.
The FA has always insisted it would make the most of the opportunity presented by Brexit to increase the number of British youngsters given a chance at top clubs.
Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, told Sky News a reduction in the number of overseas players could help the home nations succeed in major tournaments.
He said: “It’s about getting that balance right. I think even the Premier League would appreciate that.
“I think it would be an embarrassment to them having perhaps the finest league in the world but in a country that was failing at international level.
“I think there’s every reason that the two could be both successful and it’s trying to get that seesaw just at the right angle.”
One potential positive that clubs can take from the proposals is that it could simplify the process of signing non-EU players. The FA has agreed to give a governing body endorsement to any player, whether from Europe or the rest of the world, making it easier for them to obtain work permits.
One immigration lawyer, specialising in sport, told Sky News it would mean the clubs could operate with more certainty.
Owen Jones of Sheridans said: “At the moment the FA has a lot of power as to whether or not an individual from outside the EU comes in and can be employed by that club.
“In the future what the proposal means is that the governing body endorsement will be automatic so the club will have a lot more certainty about who it wants to hire or not.”
As with all Brexit changes, there would be a transition period until at least the end of 2020 although the proposal could be rubber stamped before the end of the year.