As the transfer window rolls on and players depart from and (theoretically) arrive at Newcastle, it may be instructive to review the squad and how the team is doing at meeting all of the Premier League squad restrictions. The two most relevant rules are the 25-man squad limit and the Home-Grown Player Rule, both of which are commonly misunderstood. Ask the common man on the street, and they will likely tell you that the Home-Grown Player Rule states that each club must have a certain number of English-born players. In fact, the player's nationality has nothing to do with it, though it is true that most home-grown players will end up being English as a result of the way the system works.
Here are the actual rules:
- Each team is limited to a 25-man squad for all Premier League matches (the rules don't apply to FA or League Cup matches). This squad is named at the end of each transfer window
- Players under 21 do not count toward the 25-man limit. A player's age is determined on January 1 of the year in which the season commences, so in this case, January 1, 2013. We actually have a pretty good case study here in Davide Santon. He was born on January 2, 1991, so he didn't turn 21 until last year. Because he was 20 years old on January 1, he qualified as an under 21 player, even though he was actually 22 for more than half the season. This year he will be subject to squad restrictions for the first time.
- Of the 25 players named, at least 8 must be considered "home-grown." This means that they have spent at least 36 months affiliated with the FA or Welsh FA prior to their 21st birthday. In other words, they have to have been in the academy (or on the full squad) of any Football League team for 3 years, "irrespective of nationality or age." Tim Krul is a good example. He is Dutch and plays for the Oranje in international play, but he joined Newcastle at the age of 17, so he counts as a Home Grown Player.
- If a team does not field 8 home-grown players in their squad, their allotment will be reduced by the number of players they lack. In other words, if they only name 6 home-grown players, they will only be allowed 23 players. An easy way to think about this is that teams are allowed to have up to 17 players over the age of 21 that do not qualify as home-grown.
I've broken down the current Newcastle squad into categories for easy sorting.
21 And Over, Home Grown
21 And Over, Not Home Grown
Hatem Ben Arfa
*Perch is reportedly headed to Wigan Athletic, but the signing is not official yet.
** Inman's contract expired on June 30. (NUFC Official Site) It is unknown whether or not he has been offered a new one.
Newcastle currently have 28 players aged 21 or older (26 if you exclude Perch and Inman). Of those 28, 13 (or 11) are officially home grown. Having more than 25 players subject to squad restrictions is normal for this time of year, and doesn't necessarily mean that players need to be sold, as loanees do not count against the club. Ferguson, Newton, and Dummett are all expected to be given chances to earn spots with the first team during the upcoming preseason, but it is realistic to expect that they will be heading out on loan once again. Additionally, worries that Newcastle need to buy English players in order to meet FA requirements are unfounded, as they are in fine shape on that front (and, as we have demonstrated, English players do not necessarily qualify as "home grown" and vice versa). Finally, the club has room for two more players raised abroad without making any subsequent moves.