The Fifa president Sepp Blatter is confident that his controversial 'six-plus-five' rule will be in place by the 2012-13 season after the plans received the backing of key members of Europe's football hierarchy.
Blatter, in Sydney for Fifa's annual congress, said rules restricting the number of foreign players that each club can field could be in place from the start of the 2010-11 season, beginning with a maximum quota of seven foreign players. He expects it to grow to six plus five by 2012-13 and claims the plan has the backing of European delegates to Fifa's executive committee.
Blatter pointed to the Premier League's dominance in this season's Champions League as a reason why his organisation must implement the idea, despite legal concerns from the EU and Uefa president Michel Platini.
Stressing that Fifa would proceed "within the limits of the law", Blatter said: "It is to make sure that there is better balance in the competitions and not only three or four teams in a league of 18 or 20 are fighting to be the champion and all the others are just there to not be relegated.
Apart from supressing wages of top players by limiting foreign demand, the six plus five rule would limit (as intended) the progress being made by the top clubs. Competitive balance would improve. But the root of this problem lies in the rule which confines leagues to countries (see Scotland and the old firm).
It is possible that soccer clubs would simply comply with the six plus five rule and keep on as they are. But lawsuits are sure to be filed by players who end up returning to a low-paying domestic league (think Irish, French, and Americans; this rule would also retard the development of players from the USA). And the big clubs may just tell Fifa & Uefa to kiss off, and form an "outlaw" international super-league, since that is where the money is. They will not be pleased with a rule which drags them towards the middle of their domestic league, when the prospects for a super-league are so lucrative.