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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Plans to curb foreign legion

Arsene Wenger and Gianluca Vialli's teams would be affected
English clubs could be forced to slash the number of foreign players in their squads, to allow home-grown talent to blossom, under new guidelines from MPs.

The report by the Employment Select Committee, backed by the Government, is to propose a quota system limiting the number of non-European players that Premiership clubs can field to just two - with ministers determined to find a way to limit the number of European players as well.

Such a move, to force teams to field no less than five domestic players, would cause a radical shake up at some of the country's top sides, such as Chelsea, who have on occasions named a side without a single British player.

Kevin Keegan is reported to have said the pool from which he can now select his team is 30 to 35, whereas a couple of years ago it was 30 more than that

Labour MP Derek Foster

Labour MP Derek Foster, chair of the all-party committee who have been discussing work permits for overseas footballers, told the Sunday Express: "We are concerned that we are restricting the development of our own young talent.

"Kevin Keegan, the England manager, is reported to have said that the pool from which he can now select his team is 30 to 35, whereas a couple of years ago it was 30 or so more than that."

Since the Bosman ruling in 1995, players from inside the European Union have been free to move without restriction from one member country to another, while players from outside the EU require a work permit from the Government.

Most EU countries already operate a quota system and FIFA have also expressed concern over the current system in English football.

Managers working in the English game at present voiced differing views to the proposals when the question of introducing a quota system was first raised.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said: "I think it's worth considering," and added: "I'd want to know the facts.

"I'd like to know what they propose before I commit myself to something that would be very influential in our game at the moment, but it certainly does warrant and merit great consideration."

In contrast however, Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli has said he would not support such plans.

He said: "If you want to protect the English game and the English young players then that might be the right thing to do.

"But if you want to compete when we play in Europe against European clubs, if we don't allow continental players or non-EU players to join us. The other teams would simply be too good for us."

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See also:

04 Feb 00 | Football
Fergie backs foreign quotas
02 Feb 00 | Football
Vialli attacks foreign quota plan
14 May 00 | FA Carling Premiership
Two into one must go