Since the introduction of the Premier League in 1992, the Football Association has governed the league as well as set all the rules that are still used in the top English league today.
A key set of rules that have remained consistent throughout the Premier League era are those focused on managing the squads of all 20 league clubs and how many players can feature in each team.
Being one of the greatest footballing leagues in the world, the Premier League has seen some of the planet’s most talented footballers both from abroad and in the British Isles play in the English top flight. However, there are still squad regulations set by the sports governing body that affect how many players a club can sign and if they can register to play in the Premier League.
So, what are the official squad rules in the Premier League? And what impact do foreign players have on the rulings?
What Are the Rules on Premier League Squads
The official Premier League rules state that each league club must submit a squad list that contains the names of every player eligible to play for the club that season. This list is submitted at the end of each transfer window with each club being allowed up to 25 players.
Each club’s list can contain no more than 17 players who fall under the foreign player category, while the remaining eight slots must fall under the “Homegrown Player” criteria to make up the 25 places in the squad list.
Changes to the squad list can be made during the transfer window period as clubs may buy and sell players to improve their side, this also includes players who have joined or left the club on loan as they still fill a squad position for the period they are signed for the club.
How Many Players Are Allowed in a Premier League Squad?
A senior Premier League squad can contain no more than 25 players with eight of those places reserved for homegrown players. The remaining 17 places can be used by either homegrown or foreign players, giving the clubs flexibility in how they manage and add to their playing squad.
What is a “Homegrown” Player?
A “Homegrown Player” is a player who has been registered with any club affiliated with The Football Association in England or the Football Association of Wales. These players only need to have been registered for either of the two associations for a period of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before their 21st birthday.
Despite the Premier League being based in England, the status of homegrown does not mean that the player must be English.
Premier League Homegrown Players
In a 25-man squad, a Premier League club must have a minimum of eight homegrown players with the remaining 17 spots free for both homegrown and foreign players.
While a Premier League club is allowed to sign a maximum of 25 players, a team can sign as many U21 players as they want – often filled by a majority of homegrown players. For the 2022/23 campaign, Under-21 players will have been born on or after January 1, 2001.
Interestingly, a Premier League club can choose not to have eight homegrown players as the maximum squad size is 25. However, if a team has five only homegrown players, then they can register only 22 players in their roster.
Each player signed with the club is assigned a squad number, which they wear during Premier League matches for that specific season.
Premier League Foreign Players
A foreign player in the Premier League is the status used for a player who has not been signed to either the Football Association of England or the Football Association of Wales for 36 months or over.
Premier League clubs can have a maximum of 17 foreign players in a 25-man squad, these foreign players are often born outside of the British Isles and are signed by the Premier League clubs from other leagues or as free agents.
113 different nations have been represented in the Premier League era. However, thirty years ago when the league began in 1992, only 13 players in total came from outside the British Isles. Now there are 371 foreign players in the Premier League 2022/23 season.
How Many Foreign Players Can a Team Have?
In a 25-man squad, a Premier League club can have a maximum of 17 foreign senior players, these non-homegrown players can be of any nationality and age.
Despite the rulings of the squad numbers, there are no limits on the number of foreign players in the starting 11 of a Premier League side.
When Can Premier League Clubs Register Players
Premier League players can only be registered during a transfer window period providing that the club has not already exceeded the 25-man squad number.
Players cannot be registered once the transfer window closes, this means Premier League clubs can agree to sign a player but the new signing cannot yet register within the specific league they are transferring to and cannot move clubs until the transfer window re-opens.
Free agents – players who do not have a contract with a club – can sign for any team at any point in the year as they are not tied to any current club.
Premier League 25-Man Squad Rules
- Each Premier League club must submit a squad list after each transfer window closes – twice per season.
- A Premier League squad can contain no more than 17 players who do not fulfill the “Homegrown Player” criteria.
- The remainder of the squad, up to a total of 25 players, must be homegrown.
- Changes to the squad list may be made during the period of a transfer window.