Premier League mulls home-grown quota

LONDON - The Premier League is considering adopting a "home-grown player rule" that sets a quota of locally trained players for its clubs in a bid to bolster England's national team. In a document submitted to Britain's sports minister, the country's top clubs including Manchester United and Chelsea back the rule adopted by European body UEFA but reject world body FIFA's so-called 6+5 rule with curbs based on nationality. "Reflecting the need to encourage the development of local talent and to be confident that the future supply of England-qualified players is at least as good as at present, our clubs have already indicated in principle support for a home grown player quota to be applied to Premier League matches," the document, seen by Reuters, said. "FIFA's objectives...are laudable but would contravene EU Freedom of Movement laws, inhibit development of young talent and be detrimental to the success of the Premier League and English football as a whole." England's Football League, which governs the three divisions below the Premier League, has already introduced a rule next season whereby at least four of a team's 16-man match day squad must have been registered with an English club for a minimum of three years prior to their 21st birthday. The rule does not include a restriction on a player's nationality. UNDER-18 TRANSFERS FIFA is still lobbying for support of its 6+5 rule in Europe despite the risk of legal action by the European Commission -- the European Union executive -- which says the rule contravenes its strict rules on the free movement of workers. Brussels said it supports UEFA's home-grown player rule because it does not directly discriminate against a player on the grounds of nationality or passport. The Premier League is also planning to tighten up its rules on transfers for players below the age of 18, the document showed. UEFA wants a pan-European ban on transfers of players under the age of 18 to help bolster domestic leagues, boost youth development and combat the growing number of young players being transferred to Europe, notably from Africa and South America. Currently, the minimum age in Europe for player transfers is 16 to meet EU labour laws but the EC said it was willing to consider UEFA's proposal.