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Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 23:51 UK

Kolpak numbers could be slashed

South African Lance Klusener is a Kolpak player for Northamptonshire
South African Lance Klusener is a so-called 'Kolpak' player

The number of "Kolpak" players in the county game is set to be reduced after the European Commission changed its stance on a key employment agreement.

The EC has changed its reading of the Cotonou Agreement it has with some African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

It lets many foreigners effectively play as domestic players in England but will now be read in a way which restricts their freedom of movement.

The deal has been blamed for harming the development of English youngsters.

Test Match Special's Alison Mitchell said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had been expecting the new interpretation.

"It means the ECB will now have the power to set its own limits on the number of Kolpaks or to set certain criteria for allowing them in," she said.

The "Kolpak" name comes from the Slovakian handball player Maros Kolpak, who won a ruling in the European Court of Justice in 2004 allowing him to play professionally in Germany without being classed as a foreigner.

The term has been tagged on to cricketers from South Africa and the West Indies, who are able to come into the UK and play county cricket without being classed as overseas players.

Kolpak players in the English game at present include the South African pair of Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener and West Indian Jermaine Lawson.

The change of stance came after a campaign was launched by the Central Council of Physical Recreation, who were concerned that up to 150 South Africans were playing rugby union in France.

It has resulted in the European Union ruling that the Cotonou Treaty should not be regarded as free movement of labour and instead focus on the free trade of goods and services.

Mitchell added: "It won't affect players already under contract, but whether it would affect them renewing contracts isn't clear.

"This new interpretation stands as of now. It can be tested in the courts, as I'm sure it will, but until then the ECB simply says it is looking into the full implications of the situation."

see also
County ins and outs
10 Jul 08 |  Counties
Northants stand by Kolpak policy
03 Jun 08 |  Northants
ECB will fight SA player influx
13 May 08 |  Counties
Trio successful in county appeals
30 Apr 08 |  Counties
Rhodes angry with Kolpak players
08 Apr 08 |  Worcestershire
Northants decline overseas player
15 Feb 08 |  Northants
Counties fear Kolpak
03 Mar 04 |  Cricket

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