FIFA have announced new regulations that include a limit on the number of players a club can have out on loan at a given time, although home-grown players and those under 21 will remain exempt.
FIFA’s reform of the loan system is based on core objectives that include developing young players, promoting competitive balance and preventing clubs from hoarding players.
Caps will be brought in gradually, with new rules effective as of 1 July 2022 limiting a club to a maximum of eight professional players loaned in and eight loaned out during a season.
In the summer of 2023, that number will fall to seven, while in 2024 it will fall again to six.
The regulations refer to international loans, with FIFA giving member associations up to three years to implement rules for a loan system adhering to the principles set.
In addition to capping the number of players permitted to be loaned in or out, FIFA is also generally tightening regulations in the loan market.
The new regulatory framework will include requirements on a written agreement defining the full terms of every loan, a minimum loan duration that will go from one transfer window to the next – for example, summer to January, or January to summer, as well as a maximum loan period of one year.
There will be a ban on ‘sub-loans’, a limit of three on loans in and three players out between one club and a single other, as well as a limit on the total number of loans in a single season.
As mentioned, players who come through a club’s youth ranks, or who remain under the age of 21, will be exempt from the new limitations.
It means that a club could theoretically still send an unlimited number of 19 or 20-year-olds out on loan, or players over the age of 21 who have been developed by their own academy.