Foreign Players And Transfer Regulations
Foreign players and transfer regulations
See also: List of foreign Premier League players
Rank Player Appearances
1 Ryan Giggs 606
2 David James 572
3 Gary Speed 535
4 Frank Lampard 526
5 Emile Heskey 510
6 Sol Campbell 504
7 Phil Neville 486
8 Mark Schwarzer 484
9 Jamie Carragher 484
10 Paul Scholes 481
Italics denotes players still playing professional football.
Bold denotes players still playing in the Premier League.
At the inception of the Premier League in 1992–93, just eleven players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches hailed from outside of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland. By 2000–01, the number of foreign players participating in the Premier League was 36 per cent of the total. In the 2004–05 season the figure had increased to 45 per cent. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up, and on 14 February 2005 Arsenal were the first to name a completely foreign 16-man squad for a match. By 2009 the average Premier League team had an average of 13 foreign players in their side with under 40% of the players in the Premier League being English. The effect of foreign players on the England national football team has been the subject of a long-standing debate with some such as José Luis Astiazarán, president of Spain's La Liga, suggesting that the high number of young foreign players is the reason behind the national side's lack of success at international football tournaments. Vicente del Bosque, the manager of the Spanish national team, disagrees stating that he "didn't think it's damaging for English football to have people from abroad."
In response to concerns that clubs were increasingly passing over young British players in favour of signing less-expensive foreign players, in 1999, the Home Office tightened its rules for granting work permits to players from countries outside of the European Union. Currently a non-EU player applying for the permit must have played for his country in at least 75 per cent of its competitive 'A' team matches for which he was available for selection during the previous two years, and his country must have averaged at least 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings over the previous two years. If a player does not meet those criteria, the club wishing to sign him may appeal if they believe that he is a special talent and "able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in the UK." One area where the Premier League's player registration rules are more restrictive than those of some other football leagues, such as those of Belgium and Portugal, is that academy level non-EU players have little access to English football by law.
Players can only be transferred during transfer windows that are set by the Football Association. The two current transfer windows run from the last day of the season to 31 August and from 31 December to 31 January. Player registrations cannot be exchanged outside these windows except under specific licence from the FA, usually on an emergency basis. As of the 2010–11 season, the Premier League introduced new rules mandating that each club must register a maximum 25-man squad of players aged over 21, with the squad list only allowed to be changed in transfer windows or in exceptional circumstances. This was to enable the 'home grown' rule to be enacted, whereby the League would also from 2010 require at least 8 of the named 25 man squad to be made up of 'home-grown players', defined as a player who:
irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Welsh Football Association for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21)