Bosman ruling started foreign influx

It was 1995 when the impact of the Bosman ruling sent a shudder through football that is still being felt to this day.

Powered by automated translation

It was 1995 when the impact of the Bosman ruling sent a shudder through football that is still being felt to this day. When the little-known Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman won his landmark European court ruling against RFC Liege, he and all other footballers from European Union countries were able to leave on free transfers at the end of their contracts. What it also meant was that leagues in EU member states, such as England, and the governing body Uefa could not impose existing and restrictive quotas on foreign players.

Before then, teams competing in the European Cup, Cup Winners' Cup and Uefa Cup, could only name three players from outside that country in their squad. This had a sizeable effect on the ambitions of British clubs, most notably Manchester United. The 1993 and 1994 English champions were forced to leave players such as Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel out of their Champions League squad.

The Bosman ruling, however, meant the quota ruling then only applied to the number of non-EU players on each team, allowing an influx of footballers from abroad. While the decision was welcomed by clubs, the issue created a fear for the future of national teams as local-born players were missing out on first-team opportunities they would have got previously. It took 10 years for Uefa to try to temper the damaging effect. A new rule was implemented in 2005 to increase the number of locally-trained players for European competitions. Now the Premier League's move is designed to ensure clubs look at home more than they may have done in the past and help curb spending. But this may still not be enough and there is still the prospect of a return to a quota rule.

Leading figures, led by the Fifa president Sepp Blatter, want clubs to have at least six players in a first-team side who are eligible to play for their home country. Lord Triesman, chairman of the English Football Association, has said that more needs to be done to ensure England's national team does not suffer in the long term. akhan@thenational.ae