Japan's J-League has long limited clubs to three foreign players in the first team squad. But in an effort to expand the league's influence within the region, the J-league has added a fourth slot for foreigners, with the proviso that the player be from a fellow Asian nation.
The impact on rival leagues will be immediate, as top players playing in South Korea and Australia will be eligible for bigger paydays in Japan. In addition, some clubs may want to look at bringing in players from India, Indonesia and Thailand, in order to create greater "brand awareness" in those rapidly expanding markets -- in much the same way that English clubs raced to sign Asian stars and land Asian sponsors a few years ago, to spread their brands across the continent.
The rule change goes into effect in time for the upcoming 2009 season.