BY PROFESSOR IAN BLACKSHAW THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION PUBLISHES AN INDEPENDENT STUDY ON THE ASSESSMENT OF THE UEFA HOME GROWN PLAYER RULE
This rule, which requires a minimum of eight locally trained players (as defined) in a squad comprising a maximum of twenty-five players, was introduced by UEFA in 2005 and, since then, has gradually been implemented by clubs participating in the Champions League and Europa League Competitions.
The European Commission commissioned an independent study of the UEFA rule regarding its compatibility with EU Law, in particular, the freedom of movement provisions, by the University of Liverpool and Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom and published the study on 28 August, 2013.
The main findings of this study are summarised as follows:
UEFA’s home grown player rule has resulted in improvements to competitive balance in Champions League and Europa League competitions but these improvements are very modest.
Despite the increases in the number of home grown players at EU clubs, there is little evidence to suggest that the Rule has had an impact in improving the quality of youth development in European football. Although there is little evidence to suggest that the Rule has manifestly restricted the freedom of movement of professional footballers, it is intrinsically liable to do so and it is not possible, at this stage, to state that the benefits of the Rule outweigh the restrictive effects.
The proportionality of the Rule cannot be categorically established until UEFA demonstrates that less restrictive alternative measures are ill equipped at securing the objectives of the Rule. It is recommended that, rather than adopting a negative position on the Rule, the European Commission should extend an invitation to UEFA to consult with key stakeholders on whether alternative measures, that do not carry discriminatory effects, can deliver more substantial benefits for European football.
The study, therefore, recommends to the European Commission that a further study in three years’ time should assess the outcome of these discussions and report on whether the proportionality of the Rule has been made out.
It is hoped to include a more detailed analysis of this study in the December 2013 issue of ‘Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports’.