Tonight, the French LNB announced that it has changed the quota rules for the ProA and the ProB. While several countries are openly discussing to reduce the number of the “Non-EU/Cotonou” (i.e. American) players, the French league went in the opposite direction despite protests from the local player union.
Germany has currently the most open rules concerning US players, as teams can stock up to nine non-German players this season. The Bundesliga will move this down to eight from next season, and several voices are trying very hard to lower this quota even more.
In Italy, clubs are also discussing reduction of the number of US players allowed per team from four to three. So the decision of the French league to set the number of “Non-HGP” to five from the 2010/11 season on is a bit surprising, considering the current context. Every player of whatever nationality that has a French basketball license for at least four years during the age period from 12 to 21 years is considered a HGP. Until now, four “non-EU/Cotonou” players were allowed, and this new rule opens the door to a starting five made up of five American players.
The league considers this move as a good thing to “improve the competitivity of the French basketball.” As L’Equipe reports, this argument was previously used when the number of US players was jumped from two to four a few years ago. What’s more surprising is the argument that these new rules “enforce the identity of the teams through a better local impact.”
In fact, the total number of foreigners is reduced from six (four non-EU/Cotonou and two EU/Cotonou) to five, and so gives an additional spot to a French player. But the rise of US players in the teams will probably see more movement at these positions, as the French league signs a lot of college rookies, in turn often resulting in many scouting errors and departures of key players during the summer break for more rewarding destinations.
Additionally, the French league has informed their teams to start using this rule from next season on, with the only limit to sign one EU/Cotonou player instead of a fifth non-HGP from 2010. In the 2nd division, the number of non-HGP players will also climb from two to three from 2010.
The French players union protested these rules, which had been addressed already via not playing the first possessions in the ASVEL versus Orléans broadcast a few weeks ago. I would not be surprised if similar action took place during upcoming weekends.