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Uefa adopts quota rule

The home-grown quota rule has been adopted by Uefa for European competitions such as the Champions League and the Uefa Cup. The rule will be phased in, ultimately requiring that 8 players in a 25 man squad be from the home country, with four of those developed by the organization itself. England's Premier League, which has been built on imported talent, is understandably opposed to the rule, and will attempt to block it being imposed on national competitions, as desired by Uefa. Two of the top three clubs in England (Chelsea and Arsenal) would not be in compliance if the rule were in force today.

Uefa are certain to face a legal challenge that the rule violates the free flow of labor within the EU. On this point, a Uefa spokesman said: "We also think the proposal is legal, because it is a sporting rule, not a restriction, to develop and promote young players." I certainly don't buy the distinction between a "sporting rule" and a restriction - the categories are not mutually exclusive when the rule affects the composition of players on a team.

The first-order effect of the rule is to increase demand for marginal home-grown players (those on the second team) in countries like England where they are scarce relative to the talent that can be imported. There will be some effect on the best home-grown players, but mostly on allocation and not price. Like Arsenal, Real Madrid would struggle to comply with its current squad; hence Beckham of Real Madrid might trade places with Reyes of Arsenal. Such swaps would be caused by the rule, but I see little benefit from them.

Youth training will be impacted as well, and of course that is the intent. But as pointed out in this story, if the players change countries early enough, say by moving to London at age 18, they will count as home-grown by the time they are 21. Expect the best youth to change countries at an earlier age then. Although Uefa's rule change has nothing to do with Man Utd chasing after the nine-year old Juan Carlos Chera, it would allow the young Brazilian to qualify as a home-grown Englishman should United sign him and train him in England. What a farce!