By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger has warned that the Premier League's new squad regulations could spark a wave of court cases as out-of-favour footballers seek to release themselves from their contracts.

The Arsenal manager is a critic of the quota system in which top-flight clubs must name a 25-man squad with a maximum of 17 non-homegrown players. Wenger believes that the new rules will force down the quality of the Premier League and 'paralyse' the transfer market.

Rumblings of discontent are already evident among the players with Craig Bellamy and Stephen Ireland looking elsewhere for first-team football after indications that they will be left on the fringes of Manchester City's squad. Speaking before the weekend, Wenger cited a FIFA clause* which could be triggered by players left out in the cold.

"The players have already integrated into their way of thinking that a club can only give 25 names to the Premier League," said the Frenchman.

"They already think 'if I am not in the 25 I can retire, or go here, or go there, or I go to court' - that can happen as well. Do not forget that somebody did not think in England that, if you play less than ten per cent of games in a season, under FIFA rules you can get rid of your contract.

"I would like to know, when they voted for that in the Premier League, if they knew this rule. If you have not played more than ten per cent of games, you can get in front of a FIFA committee that then decides how much money you have to pay to buy out your contract. That is a rule.     

"If players are paid for playing and you do not give them the chance to play they can go to court and ask for that money from you because they had never that chance to play. If you are not even in the 25, how can you play?"

* Section 15 of the Fifa ‘Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players - 2010’ states: “An established professional who has, in the course of the season, appeared in fewer than ten per cent of the official matches in which his club has been involved may terminate his contract prematurely on the ground of sporting just cause. Due consideration shall be given to the player’s circumstances in the appraisal of such cases. The existence of a sporting just cause shall be established on a case-by-case basis. In such a case, sporting sanctions shall not be imposed, though compensation may be payable. A professional may only terminate his contract on this basis in the 15 days following the last official match of the season of the club with which he is registered.“

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17 Aug 2010