In a bid to promote improved ‘competitive balance’ in football, FIFA are set to introduce a raft of new rules designed to prevent big clubs hoarding the most talented youngsters.
The new regulations will initially apply to international loan deals, and will cap the number of players a club can loan out overseas – and loan in – to eight per season.
The plan is for that figure to drop to a maximum of seven loans in and out for the 2023-24 season, with a further reduction to six for the 2024-25 campaign.
To ensure that they are upheld, FIFA will introduce a number of new requirements, which will include:
- A maximum loan duration of one year
- A ban on ‘sub loaning’ a player to a third-party club
- Limits on the total loans allowed per season
To help minimise the advantages of operationally-aligned clubs, such as those in the City Football Group and Red Bull franchises, caps will also be imposed on the number of loans between the same clubs – three in and three out.
However, critics are suggesting that the rules could go even further, with players aged 21 and under – as well as those classed as being ‘trained’ by the parent club – exempt from the new laws.
The proposals will also have to pass FIFA Council approval, with the next meeting scheduled for July 1, 2022.
And FIFA are prepared to give domestic football associations three years in which to implement loan systems that are based on the framework of their new international transfer system.
The new rules are part of a reform of the international transfer system that the governing body has been working on since 2017. They want to stop the wealthiest of clubs from shrinking the talent pool, which creates an imbalance with those lower down the food chain who are unable to keep or sign young talents affordably.
Hoarding the Hordes
If they had been introduced at the start of this season, it would have had significant ramifications for a number of Premier League clubs.
Seven have nine or more players out on loan at the time of writing, with Manchester City leading the way on 14.
It might mean that deals like the one which saw Conor Gallagher move temporarily from Chelsea to Crystal Palace are halted – the midfielder has contributed to 33% of the Eagles’ goals so far this term, won the man of the match award in more than 20% and earned an England call-up – not something that would necessarily happened if he had stayed at the Blues.
It may lead to bigger clubs creating more agreements with ‘feeder’ teams, knowing that they can send three of their players to the same outfit. It’s a process that has aided the development of young stars in the Red Bull network – from RB Leipzig to Red Bull Salzburg and back again, while Watford have benefitted from a similar partnership with Udinese courtesy of Giampaolo and Gino Pozzi’s ownership.
And three Manchester City youngsters – Patrick Roberts, Phillippe Sandler and Issa Kabore – have been on loan at Ligue 1 side Troyes. It also perhaps goes to explain why Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group made a bid for Brazilian outfit Cruzeiro at the end of 2021.