THE FAI were celebrating a victory yesterday after FIFA's new rulebook confirmed they had been successful in lobbying for a change to the 'three club rule' which had caused difficulty for managers bringing players into the league here from the UK.
Article 5 of the world governing body's old rules stated that players could not be registered to three different clubs in the space of a year beginning from July 1.
An FAI delegation which met FIFA last March -- amid numerous difficulties being experienced by league clubs -- pointed out that the rule was unfair to those associations operating in a summer season.
Section Three of Article 5 has now been amended to respect the Eircom League and other leagues that operate a March-November campaign.
It reads: "Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during the season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play official matches for two clubs.
"As an exception to this rule, a player moving between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons may be eligible to play in official matches for a third club during the relevant season provided that he has fully complied with his contractual obligations towards his previous clubs."
The rule sprung to prominence amid the difficulties experienced by Cork City in the infamous cases of Colin Healy and Gareth Farrelly. The so called 'FIFA 2' missed half of last year's Eircom League campaign.
Ironically, the change in the law could now have benefits for Cork as there is now no obstacle to George O'Callaghan returning home to Ireland given that he has already played for Ipswich and Brighton (on loan) since July 1 last. Bohemians are amongst the rivals for his signature.
Arbeloa praises Finnan influence
Liverpool full back Arvelo Arbeloa has lavished praise on right back rival Steve Finnan declaring him as a great influence both on the pitch and the training ground.
The pair are in competition for the right back slot at Anfield but the Spaniard has paid tribute to the abilities of the Irish international.
"Finnan is unbelievable," said the 24-year-old. "He never plays badly. He is a good player who always plays really well and is a great example for someone like me. I am learning a lot about the game from him. Not only is he a fantastic player but I also count him as a good mate."