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GFA introduces new measures to protect local players

The Gibraltar Football Association has announced major changes for next season which are aimed at increasing the number of Home Grown Players used on the field by league clubs.

In a significant change, new rules will require at least three ‘home grown players’ on the field at all times.

This is also being supported by changes in the Reserve league structure which will be changed to an Intermediate league, obliging clubs to focus mainly on the use of home grown players and placing a cap on foreign players.

The announcement came after a study revealed that on average only 19% of players starting matches throughout the season were home grown players [HGPs].

This contrasted with 42% of HGPs on the substitute bench, as many clubs followed the strict letter of the rules and played just the one home grown player.

The changes will be implemented as from the 2018/2019 season.

“Over the past year, the Gibraltar FA has been conducting a detailed review of current domestic competitions and consulting the respective stakeholders on prospective changes which would serve to benefit the development of Gibraltar Football in the coming years,” the GFA said in a statement.

The study revealed that whilst the Home Grown Player rule in Gibraltar required all clubs to have one HGP on the field of play at all times, and a minimum of two HGPs present on the substitutes bench, “results noted some very concerning figures, particularly in the First Division, such as the average percentage of HGPs starting each game throughout the season standing at 19%,” said a GFA statement.

A statistical analysis of the rule in each division over the course of the two seasons has been in force, according to the GFA.

“Additionally, it became evident that rather than playing more than one HGP at the same time, it was common practice for clubs to replace the on field HGP with an HGP on the substitute bench, keeping the number of HGPs on the field at the bare minimum for each match,” the association added.

“The percentage of HGPs therefore coming on from the substitute bench in the First Division stood at 30%.”

“Alarmingly, the percentage of HGPs sitting on the substitute’s bench and not playing at all in the First Division stood much higher at 42%.”

“The Second Division presented an average of 35% of HGPs starting each round throughout the season, 44% coming on from the substitutes bench and 55% not playing at all.”

“As a result of these figures, the Gibraltar Football Association engaged its Member Clubs and other relevant stakeholders to bring about urgent changes to tackle this alarming trend.”

As from the start of next season, each of Gibraltar’s clubs competing in domestic tournaments at senior level will have ensure that a minimum of three Home Grown Players, (HGPs) are on the field of play at all times.

The GFA will also carry out a review of this new HGP rule throughout the season.

There will be no change to the current league structure and each Club can now only register a maximum of 25 players in its squad for the 1st and Second Divisions.

In addition to the HGP Rule changes, the GFA has announced the creation of an Intermediate League, replacing the Reserves League and the U18 Youth League with immediate effect.

The changes will see far more wide-ranging changes, with teams only allowed to register a maximum of eighteen players, thirteen HGP’s and five Non HGPs. Only five players over the age of 23 can be registered in the Intermediate League.

HGP’s registered in the Intermediate League can play an unlimited number of matches in the 1st or 2nd Divisions. However, Non HGPS will only be allowed to feature in a maximum of 3 matches in either the 1st and 2nd Divisions.

The intermediate league will also see
- players registered in a clubs ‘first team’ (ie 1st or second division team) can play a maximum of 3 during the course of the season, in the Intermediate League (subject to the HGP & Age conditions set out above)
- HGPs registered in the U16 Youth League and are already 16 years of age can be registered to play an unlimited amount of games in the Intermediate League subject to the GFA receiving the relevant written permission from parents/guardians.
- Disciplinary sanctions (yellow cards/red cards/suspensions) must be served in the league where the offence is committed. This will be confirmed prior to the season once finals numbers of participating teams are confirmed.
- No player loans are permitted in the Intermediate League
- All transfers in the Intermediate League will follow the GFA’s standard Senior Club model
- An Intermediate League trophy will be presented to the winners at the end of the season
- A separate knock out cup competition will be introduced for the Intermediate League (open draw basis once competing teams are confirmed).

The Second Division Cup will also be reintroduced for one season in 2018/19. The tournaments format will be two groups of 4 to be determined by a draw. All teams will play each other twice within their groups (65matches per team). The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals and then a final.

As from 2018/19 there will be no extra time in the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup. If the match should end in a draw after 90 minutes the winner will be decided by a penalty shootout. The cup shall be played between the league champions and the Gibtelecom Rock Cup Winners. If the league champions are also the Gibtelecom Rock Cup Winners, the League runners up will contest the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup.

The league will this season also start early with the Pepe Reyes Cup to be played on the 12th August. The second division will kick off the next day with the first division kicking off on the 17th August. This giving local players more playing minutes on the field prior to their international commitment in the Nations League in September.

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