EU set to back England board

Kolpak review on the cards

Cricinfo staff

May 30, 2008

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The ECB is close to securing a concession from the European Union which could enable it to place restrictions on the number of Kolpak players in the English game, according to a report on the BBC.

The explosion in the number of Kolpak players, mainly from South Africa, engaged by counties has caused widespread concern. In one recent Championship match between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire there were 11 on show. They are able to play in England because of EU legislation and, as such, are not classified as overseas players.

"It's been a source of real contention for some time," BBC Radio 5 Live's Alison Mitchell said. "I understand that the organisation lobbying the commission on behalf of the ECB is confident that there will soon be a statement from the commission which could lead to a situation which would enable the ECB to stop this happening. Essentially, they would be free to set their own criteria for such players coming over."

An announcement from the commission is expected next month but it is more than likely that there will be appeals lodged if the rules are amended in the ECB's favour. The ECB has tried to tackle the problem by imposing financial penalties. At present, if a county fields a Kolpak player they are deducted £1100 from their annual handout. But many counties have not been dissuaded by that and the numbers have continued to increase.

At present, Kolpaks are limited to a few Caribbean countries, South Africa and Zimbabwe, but it is believed that there is a possibility that Australia and New Zealand could be included in the near future, opening the floodgates to even more. The ECB is unable under existing EU legislation to ban or impose limits on Kolpak players, although the review appears to have come about as the law was originally intended to apply to trade rather than labour.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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