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Rejoice, for Ben Davies is now UEFA Association Trained

UEFA finally sees sense?

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

One of the stupidest applications of UEFA’s rules, and to be fair there are plenty to choose from, is how they chose to interpret Ben Davies’ status as an international footballer. Davies came up through the Swansea City youth academy and was a member of Swansea’s first team for a few seasons before moving to Tottenham in 2014. Yet despite Swansea being a part of the English FA, according to UEFA he’s a Welsh player who spent his formative years with a Welsh club, therefore he was NOT considered to be “Association Trained” for purposes of UEFA competition.

That means that for as long as he’s been at Tottenham he’s counted against Tottenham’s foreign player allocation for the UEFA competitions, including the Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League. That’s especially annoying this season as Tottenham have been right up against the line with their foreign player allotment, and were in danger of not being allowed to register a full squad of 25 players.

Until today! According to Dan Kilpatrick in the Evening Standard, UEFA has relaxed its rules, at least slightly, and now considers Davies to be association trained. Hooray!

It should be noted that this ONLY applies to Davies, and not to Matt Doherty, who came up through various academies in Ireland, or Eric Dier, who is English but spent his formative years at Sporting Lisbon’s academy. It is, however, a rare example of common sense from UEFA, though it only took them eight years to figure out that Swansea actually plays football in the English football pyramid.

I also strongly suspect that Tottenham have known about this decision for a lot longer than we have, and this might at least partially help explain their fixation on Dan James, because James is in an almost identical situation to Davies — a Welsh player who was in Swansea’s academy before leaving to play for Manchester United and Leeds. Under these new guidelines, James would’ve been a club- and association trained player just like Davies is now. It still doesn’t make a ton of sense because Dan James isn’t a very good footballer, but it does explain the fixation on James as a potential loan replacement for someone like foreign-born Bryan Gil. (Relatedly, Joe Rodon’s stock just went up significantly.)

And it also means that Spurs no longer have to leave a player, likely either Gil, at home when they host Marseille in the Champions League tomorrow.