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Smith sees positives in Fifa idea

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith
Smith attended the vote in Sydney

Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith says Fifa's move to limit foreign players in club sides will help the Scotland national team.

Fifa associations have voted in favour of examining president Sepp Blatter's proposals to limit foreign players to five in a club's line-up.

"I wouldn't say we welcome it wholly, but we see it would help the national team," Smith told BBC Sport.

"I would hope clubs see it's a rule for the betterment of the game in general."

Blatter hopes his 'six-plus-five' principle will come into effect by 2012-13.

Smith says the vote held at the Fifa congress in Australia served as an affirmation to enter dialogue with the European Union, where laws safeguard the freedom of movement and labour.

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"The difficulty will be in some of the countries where they import a lot of foreign players," said the Scottish FA chief.

However, research conducted by BBC Scotland revealed that six of the 12 Scottish Premier League club's would have met the quota last season.

"I think in Scotland the trend is that we are developing more home-grown talent than in recent years," Smith continued.

"The international team is at as good a level as it has been for a quite some time.

"I'm not against foreign players - I was one myself in three different countries - so I'm all for people moving about.

"But I think a restriction might help to a degree."

And he is hopeful that clubs in Scotland would understand the thought process behind the proposals.

"I think, in general, the clubs will look at their own positions - everyone's motivated by self-interest," he added.

"But the idea to discuss Mr Blatter's idea further comes from a sense that it's important to get a sense of nationality within your club side.

"Also, it's important that young players can see there is a way to come through the system and achieve success in their own country."

But a Scottish employment lawyer has warned that Blatter's proposal will not work as it would be in breach of European law.

Amanda Jones, a partner in Maclay Murray and Spens and also a director of Hibernian, says that, however good the intention, the proposal is doomed to fail as the European Commission have already indicated that they would impose enforcement action on any association who attempts to introduce employment quotas.

However, Hearts managing director Campbell Ogilvie gave the proposal a guarded welcome despite his club's high proportion of imported players.

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"In principle, the club is in favour of a scheme promoting home-developed talent," he said.

"For any system to be implemented, it has to be structured appropriately and operable within the EU employment legislation."

"Uefa currently have a home-developed scheme which is accepted and appears successful."

However, Ogilvie stressed: "This scheme proposed by Fifa appears to contravene European Employment legislation."



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