The world football governing body, FIFA, has introduced new rules to govern the loaning of players by clubs, in an attempt the body claims is aimed at preventing the hoarding of talents by clubs.
The new rules were announced on Thursday and will kick into effect in July, just ahead of the 2022/23 European football season.
As a result of the new rules, clubs will only be limited to 16 loan deals: eight loaned in, and eight loaned out across all their squads. The following season will see the number drop to 14 (seven in, seven out), and the season after that will see the number drop to 12 (six in, six out), which will be the final number going forward.
The new rules to govern the loan of players are part of a wider reform of the player transfer system which FIFA began to look into in 2017. FIFA have mandated national associations to bring their own regulations in line with the new rules by July 1 2025 at the latest.
FIFA are still fine-tuning the rules with an approval yet to be given by the FIFA Council in charge of major changes like these. However, pending the official approval which has been reported to be scheduled for between July 2022 and June 2023, clubs will find the exemption of u-21 players and academy players to the rules a favourable loophole to exploit as these players are the ones for whom the idea of loans benefit the most.
FIFA claims that the new rules have been drawn up with the intention of helping to develop young players, improve competitive balance and prevent the stockpiling of players. They were originally due to be implemented in July 2020 but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
FIFA statement on new loan rules
A FIFA statement on the new rules read: “Objective is to develop young players, promote competitive balance and prevent hoarding.
“Following the decision passed by the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee last year, the new regulations concerning loans of players in international football are now ready to be implemented. They will be submitted to the FIFA Council for approval at its next meeting with a view to their entering into force on 1 July 2022.
“The introduction of a new regulatory framework for player loans is another important step in the context of the wider reform of the transfer system, the process of which began in 2017. Initially planned to start in July 2020, the implementation of the new rules had to be delayed as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Other loan rules by FIFA
The rules described above cover international loan deals and don’t affect domestic loan deals. However, clubs will be restricted to only six loan deals (three in, three out) with one team outside their country at any given time.
Each loan will only last one year, meaning that it must be done between two transfer windows.
Sub-loaning of a player (when both clubs agree to send an already loaned player to another club to finish the loan due to playing time or other reasons) will be banned.
All these regulations are a result of FIFA being concerned that wealthy clubs are hoarding players and preventing less wealthy clubs from accessing quality talent on loan.