The FA wants a 13-foreigner limit on squads in the Premier League, which would lead to the departure of 65% of its overseas players.
The differing priorities of the Football Association and the Premier League have once again left English football's two major governing bodies at loggerheads, this time over plans to bring in an increased cap on foreign players after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
FA wants to up limit on non-homegrown players after Brexit
The FA wants to take advantage of post-Brexit legislation on migrant workers to impose a limit of 13 non-English players in Premier League clubs' 25-man senior squads - a move that would lead to the forced departure of 65% of the foreign footballers currently plying their trade in the division. Indeed, the FA plans to reduce the number of foreigners even if Brexit doesn't happen. At present, Premier League clubs must have at least eight homegrown players in their squads.
However, the Premier League says there is no evidence that introducing a new cap would improve the performances of England's national teams, while clubs are urging the British government to safeguard the rights of their EU players and to implement post-Brexit legislation gradually, as the loss of such a wealth of talent (there are 35 Spanish footballers in the Premier League, for example) will have major consequences for a competition that generates almost 4 billion euros in UK taxes, employs 12,000 people and attracts 700,000 visitors to the country every year.
"We currently operate rules that limit the number of non-homegrown players clubs can have in senior squads, while also working with clubs to operate a world-leading player development system which delivers for England teams at every level," the Premier League said in a statement on Wednesday. "This was demonstrated by the many Premier League club academy and senior players whom FA coaches moulded so well into Under-17 and Under-20 FIFA World Cup winners and men's FIFA 2018 World Cup semi-finalists."
England boss Southgate unconvinced about cap
The Premier League says it has held talks with the Football League - which governs the other three divisions of the English league game - and the Scottish Professional Football League, and that the three bodies agree that Brexit "should not be used to weaken playing squads in British football, nor to harm clubs' ability to sign international players." Interestingly, England manager Gareth Southgate, who has studied the impact of overseas footballers on homegrown talent during his career at the FA, is doubtful about the effect such a limit would have, and admits that there is division on the matter within the organisation itself.
The government has asked the FA, the Premier League and the Football League to agree on a post-Brexit approach, but such a deal seems unlikely unless a compromise can be reached - i.e. a figure somewhere between the proposed 13-foreigner limit and the current quota of eight graduates of English academies. The FA has ultimate authority, and appears to be in no mood to change its stance.