Clubs set to be allowed to sign more foreigners as from next season

Clubs will be allowed to sign an unlimited number of players from the EU/EEA and up to four players from outside the EU should amendments to the Regulations regarding Players registered with Member Clubs and to the Competition Rules be approved by the Council of the Malta Football Association next month. The current 8 + 3 rule in the Premier League, catering for eight home-grown players, will be changed to 7 + 4 while the 8 + 3 rule will be applied in the First, Second and Third Divisions as well.

The matter, which is being pushed forward by a number of clubs, was discussed in detail during the last meeting of the Executive Committee and during the meeting of the Council which was held on Tuesday. During the latter meeting, the general idea was that there will be an agreement over such amendments.

Under current regulations, Premier League clubs may register an unlimited number of full-time professional players from the European Union or the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) but only a maximum number of three players in all – from the EU/EEA or not – if they have at least one non-EU/EEA player. Clubs in the First Division had the opportunity to sign up to one non-EU/EEA player.

However despite these regulations, competition rules stated that at each particular time during a game, a team had to have at least eight home-grown players – players who spent at least three years between the age of 13 and 18 with a local nursery – on the field of play.

These regulations were introduced in 2004, shortly before Malta became a member of the European Union. The
idea behind these regulations was the protection of the youth sector. Eventually UEFA introduced regulations based on the same idea for European club competitions. In fact, now clubs need to have at least four club products and four home-grown players out of a squad of twenty-five.

The new proposals state that clubs may register an unlimited number of EU/EEA players, irrespective of any non-EU/EEA players who are also registered with the club. There would only be a limit on the number of non-EU/EEA players that could be registered with a club.

Another proposal is that foreign players should not necessarily be registered as full-time professional players but also as part-time professional players or amateur players. Such proposal will open the door for foreigners who are working or studying in Malta who could now register for local clubs as part-time professional players or amateur players.

Clubs in the Premier League could sign up to four non-EU/EEA players, those in the First Division up to two players while those in the Second and Third Division up to one non-EU/EEA players.

On the other hand, the Competition Rules would be changed so that Premier League clubs should have seven home-grown players and four ‘foreigners’ – 7 + 4.

The 8 + 3 rule would be applied for clubs in the First, Second and Third Division. Therefore these clubs could have up to three players who were not brought up through a local nursery.

For part-time professional players to be registered with local clubs, they need to have at least a minimum wage from their full-time job and should present all legal work documents. On the other hand, amateur players should prove they have means of subsistence.