FA propose Brexit-busting system to allow clubs to sign more foreign players.

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A new, Brexit-busting system of ‘free hits’ which would allow clubs to snap up more young foreign talent if they give additional first-team opportunities to English players is being proposed by the FA.

Mail Sport has learned that officials have offered a nuanced set-up where Premier League sides could bring as many as four overseas players to this country – regardless of how many international caps they have or points they would score under the current eligibility system.

Currently, top flight clubs are unhappy with rules introduced after Britain left the European Union.

Having previously been able to bring in as many players from Europe as they wished, they are now bound by a points-based global entry system.

Based on a number of factors, including international and major league appearances, applicants have to score 15 points to be given a visa.

Clubs believe the existing system stops them from signing young talent from abroad and many have been lobbying for that barrier to be lowered to 12 points.

However, it can be revealed that FA bosses now want to bring in a ‘Significant Contribution’ (SC) system that would replace the existing exception panels, a rarely used mechanism where clubs can appeal should their targets not hit the points tally.

Under the proposals, clubs could sign any player from anywhere, regardless of age, who does not meet current requirements.

With the FA keen to protect the England team at all costs, how many spots each side are given will be related to the percentage of minutes played by English qualified footballers in the previous season.

Where that figure is north of 35%, clubs can bring in four SC players. Between 30% and 35% is three, while 25% to 30% is two and 20% to 25% is one. The same rules apply to the Championship, while those in Leagues One and Two can bring in a maximum of two SC players.

The current five-year average of England-qualified players in the Premier League is 32%, although it has been as low as 28% on some match weeks this season.

The FA have sent their proposals to all clubs for feedback and then aim to make a submission to the government. Should they receive Home Office approval, they are hoping the system will be in place for the next transfer window in June.

An FA Spokesperson said: ‘We’ve worked hard to find a solution to this issue which helps the clubs and also supports young English talent. We are now in a consultation with the clubs on a new model which would give clubs access to a broader range of talent in limited quantities and would also support opportunities for English talent.’

The response from clubs remains to be seen.

Brighton chief exec Paul Barber said: ‘We are not convinced that having wider access to talent is to the detriment of the national team. We are not convinced the evidence suggests that. But we also recognise that we have a responsibility to bring through young English players and the amount of money we spend on our academies shows that we have no sign of letting up on that.

‘We feel we are putting ourselves at the moment at a disadvantage – a big disadvantage in some cases – with some of our rivals in Europe and they are able to access talent at a far lower level, develop it and sell it on to us at far higher prices.

‘Our argument is we would much rather have access to that talent at the lower prices and we could then spend the money that we save to invest further in English football and the development of our academies.’

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