By Mark Chaplin in Nyon
UEFA is to ask its 52 national member associations to discuss its proposals on homegrown players when the association presidents and general secretaries meet in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday. It is part of the final fine-tuning process before concrete proposals are submitted to UEFA's Ordinary Congress in Estonia in April.
UEFA has already issued initial proposals for the inclusion of a minimum number of homegrown players (for example, seven or eight) out of the 18 players on match sheets, and a limitation on the number of players in club squads (for example, 25), and is involved in a comprehensive consultation process with major stakeholders in the European game.
The European body has voiced the concern that some clubs are not training enough of their own players, but simply signing them from elsewhere. The objective from UEFA's point of view is to create a better balance in domestic competitions, preventing clubs from simply 'hoarding' players in squads and creating a system whereby homegrown players would be given a greater opportunity to play regularly.
Decision in April
"Since the presidents and general secretaries are in Nyon on Thursday, the Executive Committee wanted to discuss the issue with them," said UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson. UEFA's Executive Committee will also take a decision on the format for the qualifying competition for UEFA EURO 2008™ at its next meeting in Tallinn in April.
The committee discussed the possible revamping of the format at its meeting in Nyon on Wednesday, but has decided to give itself additional time to agree on the qualifying programme for the final round in Austria and Switzerland in just over three years' time. "There are still things to be looked at, to learn more from experiences made in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying competition," said Mr Olsson. "This will be brought back to the table for the Executive Committee in April."
In addition, a decision will be made on the 2006 and 2007 UEFA club competition finals at the Tallinn meeting on 19 and 20 April. "Additional information is coming in on some of the bids, and we think we still have time to decide," Mr Olsson explained.
A proposal is being made by UEFA to the associations to move the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final round to odd years, starting in 2007. "Today, the competition is played just before UEFA European Championship or World Cup final rounds," Mr Olsson said. "So the potential for the Under-21 final round is not fully developed."
The UEFA CEO continued: "It would mean that we can try to avoid competition with the major final rounds, give the chance to teams to field their best players in the Under-21 final rounds, and prevent this final round being squeezed in between club competition finals and national team final rounds, as is the case today."
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