Nigerian football stars may find it increasingly difficult to play their club football in England if the proposition of the English FA is executed.
The English FA has announced a package of proposals aimed at reducing by 50 percent the number of players from outside the European Union who enter English football and making it easier for home-grown players to succeed.
The plans would have a direct impact on the lower tiers of English football, below the Premier League, and the import of players from Africa, Asia and North and South America, including Argentina and Brazil.
In a consultative paper, as required by the British Home Office legislation that covers visa applications by footballers, the FA on Wednesday through its official website, the FA.com, put forward six detailed changes it hopes to see made to the current Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) system.
These include restricting GBE applications to Premier League clubs, banning loans for these players and restricting the list of countries permitted to use the system to the top 50 in Fifa’s rankings, unless a transfer fee of more than a specified sum – 10 or 15 million pounds ($16.33 or $24.50 million) – is paid.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said the reforms were part of an overhaul of English soccer being recommended by the England Commission think tank and added that a further announcement of proposed changes, aimed at stimulating the England national team’s performances, will follow in October.
“Everyone recognises the present system is bust,” Dyke told Sky Sports News. “The rules say elite non-European players – the very best – should be allowed to come in and we agree with that.
Dyke went on to explain the rationale behind the new proposition.
“What we are saying is there are a lot that aren’t (the very best), that don’t play that much and do take squad places and a lot, particularly in the Football League, disappear after a year or so. The system doesn’t work at the moment.
“What we are saying is, ‘Let the best players come in, but give the rest of those squad places to young English kids’.
The English FA boss explained that the careers of young players under 18 is also of paramount interest to the FA.
“We still have the problem of good kids aged 17 and 18 and they are not getting enough competitive football. So, we are still looking at how to improve that position.”
Eagles stars like John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Brown Ideye, Victor Anichebe are plying their trade in the English top flight. There are also Nigerian players like Danny Shittu and Kenneth Omeruo who play for Championship and other lower division clubs.
Interestingly, young players of Nigerian extraction play for non-leagues, and some either have British passport and have represented England before or have never been called up to any of the English age-grade national teams.
Presently, a Nigerian player desirous of plying his trade in the English Premier League would
have played 75% of games for the national team in the preceding year.