Press Release: New FA proposals to reduce non-EU players may backfire - and that's a good thing!

Commenting on the Football Association's first draft of proposals to reduce the number of non-EU players within English football, Head of Policy at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, said:

The FA's new proposals are very unlikely to achieve their goals, and may actually backfire — but that's a good thing!

Their overall goal—cutting the fraction of non-EU players in the premiership by half—is wrongheaded. Clamping down on foreign players will hurt English club football without helping the English national team, according to the evidence.

Last month, Adam Smith Institute research showed there was no statistically significant link between either current or past prevalence of foreigners and how well England does in European or World Cups.

The actual proposals, however, contain a number of good ideas: automatically granting visas when clubs are willing to pay a large fee; and giving visas to players who play 30%, rather than 75%, of a top 30-ranked international team's games. The old version of the latter rule was too tight and would have kept out, among others, Willian.

The proposals which tighten rules (clamping down on Championship visas, narrowing the visa extent to top 50 rather than top 70, and stopping subjectivity in appeals), though misguided, seem too trivial to have a large negative impact.

Overall most of the proposals are either trivial or welcome, and shouldn't worry us too much. But the attitude and goals that the FA evince should worry us—cracking down on foreign players threatens to wreck English club football while doing nothing to improve the English national team.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Communications Manager, at / 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.