Mawhinney hails historic football ruling

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The Independent Football

Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney has hailed the vote by the 72 clubs for a minimum of four 'home grown' players in match-day squads as an historic day for the game.

Under the new rule, from next season at least four out the 16 players in matchday squads will have had to have come through the ranks of clubs in England and Wales.

The move only affects Football League matches, not their flagship competition the Carling Cup. Mawhinney also envisages the possibility of clubs voting to increase the minimum number of 'home grown' players in the future.

Mawhinney told PA Sport: "This is a very significant day for football.

"I believe we are the first major league in the whole of Europe to have brought in this rule.

"This may not have a widespread effect immediately but it's about what happens in the years ahead. We have made a decision on principle as we agree with [UEFA president] Michel Platini that young players are the backbone of the teams.

"It may be in a few years the league will decide to move to five or six players out of 16 being home grown.

"We are encouraged that many others in football and the media think this is a significant move forward."

The regulation was agreed at a special meeting of Football League clubs at Derby this morning. Only one of the 67 clubs present did not support it.

The rule means at least four of the 16 players in match squads will have had to have been registered domestically for a minimum of three seasons before their 21st birthday. They can, however, be of any nationality.

The new rule is in line with the approach favoured by UEFA rather than the 'six-plus-five' approach being proposed by FIFA.

Mawhinney added: "The vote was overwhelming. We devote a lot of time and energy and money to youth development and what we are saying here is we value our young players, and we want to create a space for them to demonstrate how good they are.

"The world of football should take note of the young players coming up. And although this rule does not make any distinction on the grounds of nationality it will overwhelmingly benefit English players."