The long awaited loan reforms by FIFA are set to finally come into effect in the summer, some four years after they were first promised to curb the scourge of loan systems in football, or some such. Chelsea are (and certainly were) the poster boys of course, even if our Loan Army was never the biggest and hardly all that successful.
When the rules are introduced — for real this time? — in July 2022, they will look pretty much the same as when news of them first broke in September 2018, when they were set to come into effect in 2020, before that got delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Basically, no more than eight (8) players aged 22 or older will be allowed to be loaned out at any given time, with the limit dropping to seven (7) in 2023 and then finally six (6) in 2024.
While not immediately obvious from FIFA’s announcement, these rules are technically only for “international loans”. FIFA have given each member association “three years to implement rules for a loan system that is in line with the principles established at international level”. Loan rules in England are in some ways already more restrictive (no more than two from the same team, just one at Premier League level, for example, while FIFA will allow three), and they will probably fall in line pretty quickly with the total count restriction as well.
But — and this is a big BUT — FIFA’s rules give an exemption to players “aged 21 and younger and club-trained players”, which pretty much makes these rules extraneous to what we’re trying to accomplish with loans anyway.
*A limitation on a club’s total number of loans per season. To ensure that this is implemented smoothly, there will be a transitional period as follows:
– From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, a club may have a maximum of eight professionals loaned out and eight loaned in at any given time during a season.
– From 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024, the same configuration applies but with a maximum of seven professionals.
– Finally, from 1 July 2024, the same configuration will apply but limited to a maximum of six professionals.
*Players aged 21 and younger and club-trained players will be exempt from these limitations.
Though it’s unclear what are the exact requirements for “club-trained”, of Chelsea’s 21 current loanees, only six (6) have not spent any time in the Chelsea Academy as well: Michy Batshuayi, Emerson, Matt Miazga, Baba Rahman, Tiémoué Bakayoko, and Danny Drinkwater (who’s on a non-international loan, technically). Kenedy might make this seven (7) again before the end of the month — but either way, we’re well within the limits.
It should be noted that when we first became aware of these regulations, Chelsea had 24 “international loans” with over half of those involving players over 21 and not from the Academy. Clearly, we’ve been cutting away the deadwood slowly but surely. The Premier League might eventually introduce an age limitation on domestic loans as well, even for club-trained players, but as of right now, only four homegrown players aged 21 and over are in the Loan Army: goalkeepers Nathan Baxter and Jamie Cumming, plus Jake Clarke-Salter and Dujon Sterling.
In any case, these regulations were never really going to have a big effect on us, and these days, they are hardly going to affect anything.
Wonder how many people realise Brighton had as many players out on loan before Jan 1st as Chelsea did (and significantly fewer club-trained).
— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) January 20, 2022