How Many Foreign Players Can Play In EPL

Do you know how many foreign players can play in EPL? That's right, you don't. Otherwise, you won't be here reading this post.

As far as I know, there is no rule that states that a fixed number of homegrown players have to start a game.

Let's now find out how many foreign players are allowed to play in the Premier League?

How Many Foreign Players Can Play In EPL


Discussion on how many players can play in the premier league has been a major talking point of the English FA since the 2000s.

However, a real serious move to check and control the number of foreign players playing in the EPL at a given season was established with the introduction of the home-grown player rule in the 2010/2011 season. 

This rule was made in the hope of nurturing more England or at least UK-born players in the premier league, which was part of the League’s Elite Player Performance Plan, a youth development England-based scheme.

The home-grown player rule states that each of the 20 English premier league teams of every season must list a 25-man squad comprising only senior players aged 21 and above.

Of these 21 players, at least 8 must be home-grown, which meant a team could only have a maximum of 17 foreign players in the team at a time.

Following the calculations of this rule, the maximum number of players that can play in the EPL would be 17 players X 20 clubs which would be 340 foreign players under normal circumstances.

While this would give a picture of how many foreign players can play in the premier league, it is not so straightforward due to the implication of the rule itself, which will be discussed below.

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This is probably the biggest loophole of the rule.

A foreigner could be considered as an English Home-grown player if he spent three years in an England-based club academy before turning 21.

This means that a Ghanian who joins Chelsea youth academy at the age of 18 and spends three years with the team before turning 21 will be considered home-grown.

Paul Pogba, Cesc Fabregas, and Victor Moses were all beneficiaries of this slack as they were considered as English Home-grown players despite being foreigners.

Greg Dyke, the former president of the FA, tried to counter this loophole by asserting that players would be considered home-grown if they spent at least three years in an English academy before turning 18.

This meant a player must, at most, start playing football at the age of fifteen to be considered Home-grown.

If implemented, this law would see lesser foreign players in England academy as football regulations do not allow the movement of youth players across borders below sixteen.

This rule has not been implemented yet which means that it is currently possible to have more than 340 foreign players in the EPL if foreign nationals were listed among the 8 home-grown players list.


Another factor that could hike the number of foreign players in the EPL is if clubs sign foreign players during January transfer windows.

This would automatically increase the number of foreign players in the league.

The case could be the opposite, though, if clubs let go of foreign players during the window as well.

Both conditions stated above show how tricky it is to get an accurate number of the maximum foreign players in the EPL with the list ranging between 340 and above.

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I believe you now understand how many foreign players can play in EPL? You can share your thoughts on this article in the comment box below.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago