Home Grown Player rules will be brought into the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship from the 2021-22 season, the Football Association has confirmed.
The WSL has this summer seen a mass influx of foreign signings, particularly from the United States and Australia, with America’s National Women’s Soccer League having been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some have raised concerns over whether these players will prevent young English talent from getting valuable game time, but the FA has already made agreements that there will be rule changes next season to ensure this isn’t the case.
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The Home Grown Player (HGP) quota will be the same as it is in the men’s game, with eight players in each WSL club’s 25-player squad needing to be HGPs.
In the Championship, the FA has proposed that clubs will be required to have a squad which consists of 60 per cent HGPs. For a squad of 18 players, that means 11 players must be home grown, while a squad of 25 players would need 15, for example. Every Championship club currently meets the potential 60% criteria.
The rules will come into place in the season that leads into England hosting the Euros, the 2021 tournament now pushed back to the summer of 2022 due to the pandemic.
The FA has also changed the rules around loan players as of this season, which begins on Saturday afternoon when Manchester City visit newly-promoted Aston Villa.
Previously, the rule was that clubs could only bring in two players on loan at once. However, this season, clubs will be allowed to sign up to six players on loan, with a maximum of three simultaneously from the same club and a limit of two outfield players over the age of 23.
“[That is] to make sure that young talent who are maybe not getting on [the pitch] can go out on loan and get key game time, which is so important for their development,” Kelly Simmons, director of the women's professional game at the FA, explained.
“We’ve got four pilot clubs where we are reviewing our player pathway too. Alongside rules, we’ve got to make sure we’re producing top, top talent so we get this blend of English and [foreign] world-class talent.
“I think it’s been well-documented that we want to make the pathway more diverse and more inclusive as well. There’s a lot of working going on in the pathway.
“A number of work is coming together really to say, how do we get this right blend of world-class and English talent. One of our goals in the new strategy is to attract and develop world-class talent. We’ve got to get that blend right together.”
There are plans to expand that HGP rule for the 2022-23 season, with the quota to remain under annual review.
As with the men’s game, a HGP is defined as a player who: “irrespective of their nationality or age, has been registered with a club and/or any other football club affiliated to the Football Association or an Affiliated Association, for a period, continuous or not of three seasons or 36 months prior to their 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which they turn 21)”.
With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, there will be a significant impact further down the line on the amount of foreign talent able to come to England, both in the WSL and in the Premier League.
Simmons confirmed that the FA’s endorsement criteria post-Brexit, which determines whether or not a foreign player can come to the league based on international caps and other criteria, is under review in anticipation of that change.
The league’s salary cap remains unchanged for the moment, staying at 40% of a club’s turnover. Simmons did confirm, however, that it will be reviewed in the coming months.