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Premier League Change The Rules!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 08/06/2003

AT the summer meeting of Premier League club chairmen in Melton Mowbray on Friday, Premier League clubs have agreed to allow transfer payments to be spread over the length of a player's contract in a move which could cut the number of foreign imports and allow managers to sign more English players.

Before this change it was usually 50% 'up front' and the other 50% within 12 months.

A Premier League spokesman said: "Payments for transfer fees can now be spread over the length of a player's contract, so if the contract is for five years then the fee can be spread over that time.

"It will bring it into line with the foreign market. If you can do that with players from Italy or Spain it seems only sensible to be able to do it with players from England as well, and it should make it more attractive to managers to buy English-based players.

"However, this does not stop clubs asking for payment all up front or within 12 months if they wish to do so, it just gives them the option of spreading it out."

Another change is that loan transfers between Premiership clubs was also agreed which means loans will only be allowed within the transfer windows up to a maximum of four per season and clubs will only be allowed two loan signings from other Premier League sides at any one time, although there will be an allowance made to sign goalkeepers in an emergency.

This change will also affect clubs in the Football League who will be keen to sign players from the premier whose transfer fees they could not afford to pay under the old rules but which they could manage on an instalment plan.

Phil Jevons's situation at Grimsby Town could well be affected by this change if Everton would agree to the change in the payment system. Grimsby cannot afford to play him under the current arrangement and if agreement could be reached, he could be an additional 'player' to the squad instead of being a non-playing passenger.

It would also be of great assistance to clubs if the Football League were to follow suit with the premier and agree to the same arrangements.

It would take a great deal of the financial pressure off clubs who are trying to lift the quality of their teams but are held back by fees they cannot afford in one or two payments. But clubs would still have to ensure that any instalment plan falls within their expenditure limits and not be tempted, as they have in the past, to overstretch their limits and get into trouble.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Football league to this plan.

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