Watford loan loophole set to be blocked

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Football League clubs are today set to impose tough new restrictions on overseas loan players after Watford’s exploitation of the system last season.

The number of loan players at Watford stretched to 14 last season, and ten of them came from just one club: Italian side Udinese. The Pozzo family who own the Hornets also own the Serie A club, while other players have come from another club owned by the family, Granada in Spain.

The use of foreign loan players circumvented Football League rules which restrict match-day squads to five loan players, with a maximum of four from any one club. The Football League’s 72 clubs meet today in Portugal, where they are expected to bring the overseas loan player rules into line with the domestic regulations.

Watford’s exploitation of the system led to a number of complaints and the league appointed its working party on player-related issues to look into the matter and it has come up with the proposals to close the loophole.

A majority of 51 per cent of clubs, and 51 per cent of Championship clubs, is needed but the proposal is expected to receive overwhelming support.

Watford’s loan players included the Championship player of the season Matej Vydra, the Czech striker. The Hornets found themselves publicly criticised by Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway after naming seven loan players against his team. Holloway, who called the overseas loophole “ludicrous”, had the last laugh after his side beat Watford in the Championship play-off final last month.

The agm will also discuss Football League chairman Greg Clarke’s announcement that he is to move from an executive to non-executive role and a chief executive be appointed.