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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
ECB aims to slow foreign invasion
English cricket authorities are to combat the influx of foreign players by giving extra money to counties who produce national team members.

The annual county subsidy of around 1.3m will include incentives for sides fielding England-qualified players in major competitions.

European Union legislation has allowed some players to avoid the quota of two overseas signings per county.

The exact amounts involved will be confirmed in December.

But reports suggest the annual handout will be cut by 50,000 per team with the money gained used for incentive payments.

Had they done it only on the number of England-qualified players, that would be wrong and illegal
David Ligertwood
Sports lawyer and player agent
More than 30 players appeared in county competition in 2005 without being qualified for England but also without taking up an overseas player spot.

Many were from the Southern Hermisphere but held British passports through ancestry or residency.

Others qualified through the Kolpak ruling - made by the European court in a case involving a Slovakian handball player - which outlaws descrimination against those from countries which have an associate agreement with the European Union.

Sports lawyer and player agent David Ligertwood believes the England and Wales Cricket Board must be careful in the way it makes the payments.

Number of county's players who have played for England
Number of U23 England-qualified players
Number of England-qualified contracted players in major competitions
Level of qualification of the county's coaching staff
Number of players county provides for the England A and age-group sides
Implementation and management of a county academy
He told BBC Sport: "My understanding is that they are doing it only for counties that produce England players and my first reaction is that it is spot on.

"Had they done it only on the number of England-qualified players, that would be wrong and illegal.

"That concept of basing it purely on where someone is from doesn't seem consistent with European law."

Last week's meeting of the First Class Forum - made up of representatives of the 18 counties, plus the MCC - decided to continue with the current overseas player limit of two.

But any replacements for those two players must be nominated by 1 July, preventing the clutch of late-season signings seen this season.

The England team is to name a development squad of up to 25 players to train with head coach Duncan Fletcher, some of whom will be county-contracted players.

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04 Mar 04 |  Cricket
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