Manchester United will not actively oppose the rule planned by European football's governing body, Uefa, that clubs must include in their squads a minimum number of "home-grown" players. David Gill, United's chief executive, told me this week that like other Premier League clubs, United do not welcome Uefa's rule because they believe it "intrudes" into their free choice of players, but he said United will be "prepared to accept it".
The proposal, unveiled last month, is that from 2006-07, clubs competing in the Uefa Cup and Champions' League must include in their 25-man squads at least two players produced by their own academy, plus two by another domestic club's, rising to at least four "home-grown" and four "locally trained" players by 2008-09.
Uefa wants to level competition across Europe, where success has increasingly become monopolised by a few rich clubs, and it also wants clubs to maintain their local links in today's globalised sport.
Arsenal's vice-chairman, David Dein, provoked controversy and, as a main board director of the Football Association, criticism of a conflict of interest when he immediately opposed the plans, which are supported by every national football association except our own, and every European league except the Premiership and Serie A.
Gill, by contrast, said United did not want to get into a "bunfight" over the proposals. "They fit with our overall philosophy, which has always been to develop young players. We will accept it, and will also introduce the same balance of home-grown players into our domestic football because it would be too expensive to run two squads. If the Premier League clubs vote to oppose the rule, we will abide by that, but we will not be pushing for any legal challenge."Reuse content