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Future of Club Football

Both UEFA and FIFA have been looking at club football to try to make it more competitive. Their aim is to try to spread the talent across that board, encourage youth development and ensure that national teams have a sufficient pool of players to choose from.

Unbeknown to many, any team competing in UEFA tournaments since 2006/07 have been complying with a UEFA ruling that states that a certain number of players in your nominated squad of 25 have to “club trained”. Club trained means they have to have been for three years at your club between the ages of 15 and 21. For the season 2008/09, 8 of the 25 have to be “club trained”, with at least 4 of those players being form the club’s own academy.

UEFA and FIFA in association with the top European clubs are in discussions to extend this rule to domestic football. This will make clubs to send in a 25 man squad list to the FA at the start of the season, 8 of the players must be “club-trained”, at least four through your own academy and a maximum of four through academies of other British clubs. As with UEFA clubs will have a “B” list, the B list will include only club-trained players from your own academy who have been with you for at least two seasons. This B List allows some clever avoidance of the rules, Arsenal named, Denilson, Fabregas, Djourou and Walcott all on the B list.

There are also discussions to increase the age at which players can join a club from another club without the first club’s consent. At the moment youngsters can leave before signing a professional contract and join another club. Arsenal signed both Fabregas and Merida on such basis, as well signing Anelka, Clichy and Traore with little or no compensation going to their clubs.

Adopting the UEFA rules is a half-way house, as FIFA wanted a strict 6+5 rule, namely 6 of the starting team must qualify to play for the national country of the club.

There will be a change to the rules sooner or later in an attempt to make football throughout Europe more competitive, so long as everyone is playing to the same rules that is not an issue. For this reason it is important that Arsenal have a top Academy at Hale End and it carries on producing top players. Then it is for Arsene and his coaches at London Colney to integrate these players into the youth, reserve and eventually the first team. Our avenue to bringing in cheap foreign talent will be closed or restricted.