UEFA and its Amended Home Grown Player Rule

In May, clubs including Manchester City (City) and PSG  entered into break-even settlement agreements with UEFA. These agreements among other sanctions, included fines, wage bill restraints and squad size reductions . This last sanction means that City, for example, could only register 21 players for their 2014-15 Champions League squad. As is set out below, 8 home-grown players (HGPs) are required to be included in a club’s 25 man squad. It has recently been reported however that City will be allowed to field 5 HGPs in their 21 man squad.

Background

By way of brief background, the UEFA HGP rule was introduced for the 2006/07 season, and requires each club team entering European competitions to name eight home grown players in their 25 man squad. The relevant stipulations can be found here in the Champions League and Europa League 2013-14 Article 18 regulations

The UEFA HGP rules stipulate that 4 of the designated squad players have to be ‘club-trained’ and 4 must also be ‘association-trained’. A club-trained player is defined as a player who regardless of his place of birth has been registered between the ages of 15 and 21 with his current club for a period of three entire seasons or 36 months. An ‘association-trained’ player fulfills the same criteria but with another club in the same association.

It may also be the case that there is a HGP transfer fee premium which adds additional cost to particular players who are more attractive because they can qualify as a HGP for the relevant PL and UEFA squad lists.

Analysis

It was assumed by many that City and PSG would be required to submit 8 HGPs even though their squad size had been reduced. At the recent Fifa Congress, Uefa’s general secretary Gianni Infantino, said regarding the HGP reduction: “It came after a request from the players union Fifpro saying when you take these kind of sanctions and measures you cannot harm the players and the rights of a player who has a contract for the behaviour of the clubs. So we looked at it and it was felt appropriate there for the number to be proportionally reduced as well.”

Strangely, the reporting to date suggests that City (and presumably PSG) will be required to submit their 21 man squad with 5 HGPs. This however presumes as Mr Infantino suggests that the number would be “proportionately reduced”. Based on a ratio of 3.125 (i.e. 8 HGP out of 25 man squad), a 21 man squad based on same HGP ratio equals just under 7 HGPs, not 5. Presumably, the same HGP ratio calculation should be used for both 25 or 21 man squads. At best, some clubs may argue that the rules are being applied inconsistently.

In addition, it is not clear how many ‘club-trained’ or ‘association trained’ players out of the 5 will be required to be submitted on the list. This is because club trained players are at more of a premium than association trained players because it is perceived as more difficult for youth team players to transition to a club’s Champions League/Europa League squad than any player who trained in the same club association. Until it is made clear how many association or home grown players are required under any amended UEFA settlement agreement requirement , some clubs may feel aggrieved that rules are not being applied consistently or transparently.

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