Local agents are divided on the impact that a proposed change to the rules to restrict the amount of foreigners playing in England would have on Australian football.
English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke put forward a proposal in September, which would limit the amount of non-European players in the English league system.
Australians without EU passports would not be allowed to join clubs lower than the English Premier League and it would be harder for them to play in the top flight as well, with players from national teams below FIFA’s top 50 rankings no longer getting automatic visas even if they’ve played enough international games.
Currently, there are more than 50 Australians playing in the UK, 26 of which are situated with Premier League clubs at differing age groups.
Jon-Paul Michail, Football Projects Manager at FIA Sports Management, believes the rule change would be a blow for Australian footballers “both young and experienced alike”.
“It’s every young footballer’s dream to play in the big leagues in Europe, but if they aren’t able to play in England, where do they go?” he said.
“Holland is the highest profile nations Australians are enjoying success outside of the UK at the moment. But look at the other three big leagues: Germany, Italy, Spain and France, Australia’s representation is the lowest it has been in many years.
“If this movement passes in England, it won’t be long before other European nations take similar action. If things continue the way they’re going in Europe, it won’t be long before young Australians are dreaming of playing in places like Japan, Korea, China or even the Middle East and Thailand.
“Many players are already opting for these destinations over playing in the smaller European leagues. It’s moves like the one being touted in England that will only strengthen Asian football, but it won’t help Australians who dream of European careers.”
Leo Karis believes that there are other leagues in Europe and Asia, as well as the A-League, that can assist in the development of Australian players if the proposal is accepted.
Ritchie Hinton believes the change wouldn’t matter greatly to Australia because it only impacts non-EU players and it really only represents a tightening of the existing rules.
The idea of Dyke’s proposal is to help strengthen the English national team and give young English players more opportunities at local clubs. Under the proposal Socceroo skipper Mile Jedinak’s transfer to Crystal Palace when they were in the Championship in 2011 would have been affected.
According to the FA, under the new guidelines 57 of the 122 non-EU players that were given visas between 2009 and 2013 would not have been granted.
Football agent Chris Tanner, England has always been a tough market for Australian players to crack and believes sending a player there without an EU passport “is a poor bet anyway”.
The English FA hopes to gain final approvement from the British government on the non-EU player restrictions in time for the 2015-2016 season.
Article by: John Davidson
© 2014 FourFourTwo Australia | This article first appeared on FourFourTwo on 20 November 2014