Town expected to back foreigners' limit

IPSWICH Town are expected to vote for a proposal that, if passed, will lead to the Football League restricting the number of foreigners playing in English football.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town are expected to vote for a proposal that, if passed, will lead to the Football League restricting the number of foreigners playing in English football.

The proposal, to be voted on at a special emergency general meeting on December 18, is to bring in a rule where at least four players from each club's 16-man squad must have been registered domestically, for a minimum of three seasons, prior to their 21st birthday.

Blues' non-executive chairman David Sheepshanks has championed for the use of more home-grown talent for some while.

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Either he or Town chief executive Derek Bowden will attend the meeting at Derby County.

There was no official confirmation from the club today on how they would vote but, with Sheepshanks flying the flag for less foreign players, it is anticipated they will give the vote the thumbs up.

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The proposal, which is being put forward by the Football League board of directors, is in line with the approach favoured by UEFA rather than the '6+5' approach being proposed by FIFA.

The board has concerns over the legality of the latter in European law. This means that players will be considered as 'home grown' regardless of their nationality.

To be passed, the 'Home Grown Players' rule will need support from a majority of League clubs and a majority of clubs in the Championship - and come into effect from the beginning of next season.

A player will be considered 'home grown' if he has been registered for three entire seasons (or 36 months) prior to his 21st birthday (or end of season in which he turns 21) with a club affiliated to the Football Association or Football Association of Wales.

There are 8,500 young footballers, aged between 8 and 18, on the books of Football League clubs and across the Football League, there are 22 Academies and 46 Centres of Excellence.

In the past four seasons, more than 600 young players developed by Football League clubs have gone on to sign professional contracts with the Ipswich Town academy being as fruitful and respected as any.

Fourteen of the 23-man England squad that beat Germany in Berlin, last week, were developed by youth development programmes at Football League clubs.

Darren Bent is one of those players and he came through the Ipswich Academy.

Apart from Bent, the only other player developed by Ipswich in England's most recent internationals from senior down to Under-16 level is Connor Wickham, who was in the Under-16 squad against Scotland on November 28.

The proposal does not affect the Premier League where it has been known for clubs like Arsenal to field a side full of foreigners.

The country's most successful clubs bring through few of their own youngsters with Town on-loan German defender Moritz Volz, for instance, joining the Gunners as 16-year-old.

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