Premier League adds to domestic woes

(Courtesy of Tung Ngo)

Premier League Chief Richard Scudamore has failed to increase local talent despite announcing in September new squad regulations to promote homegrown players in the English game.

From next season, English clubs must:

  • Name 8 home-grown players in a squad of 25 (Premier League)
  • Name 4 home-grown players in a squad of 16 (Football League)

A player must have been registered for at least three seasons in order to pass as homegrown, either at an English or Welsh team, between 16 and 21.

Such a ruling is quite deceitful as it is not compulsory for the player to be English or even British – a player can be Spanish and still be classed as “homegrown”.

Scudamore explained to the BBC that the legislation “will encourage youth and development and the promotion of young players.”

Peterborough’s Director of Football, Barry Fry, also backed the scheme last year and told the BBC the new ruling is crucial “if we’re (England) going to be a force in world football.”

England and Chelsea captain John Terry (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Englishmen a dying breed

Figures show fewer English players are plying their trade in England’s top flight, and many still think local lads will struggle to break into the first team despite the new ruling.

  • 207 players represented England in 2001/02
  • 170 players represented England in 2007/08

Amongst the so-called top 4 teams, homegrown Englishmen who play in the first team are a rarity.

Liverpool have Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, Arsenal only have Kieron Gibbs and Chelsea have John Terry.

Lack of qualified coaches

The problem may well not come down to the individual, but with the lack of qualified coaches around the UK.

If we compare England and European Champions Spain, and the number of coaches with a UEFA Pro Licence and a UEFA “A” qualification, things may become clear.

  • 110 UEFA Pro Licenced coaches in England
  • 2,140 UEFA Pro Licenced coaches in Spain
  • 895 UEFA “A” qualified coaches in England
  • 12,720 UEFA “A” qualified coaches in Spain

If England want to genuinely compete for trophies, the number of qualified coaches and the standard of coaching at grassroots level must improve.

Loopholes

Andy West, Writer for When Saturday Comes, thinks Scudamore has failed “in terms of limiting the number of overseas players.”

West explained in his article, Domestic Woes, how the system states a player must be registered with an English club for 3 years or more by the time they reach 21.

Also, anyone under 21 will have no requirements regarding their nationality.

Because of this West says the new legislation will have little impact on the majority of teams.

For example, Arsenal will be able to register the following as “home-grown”:

  • Cesc Fabregas – Spanish
  • Gael Clichy – French
  • Johan Djourou – Swiss
  • Nicklas Bendtner – Danish
  • Carlos Vela – Mexican
  • Armand Traore – French
  • Nacer Barazite – Dutch

All of the above, whether they come from France or Mexico, can be classified as homegrown under the guidelines produced by the Premier League.

“It’s hardly a revolutionary development when you consider that it will still be possible to field an entire starting XI (plus six substitutes) of non-Englishmen,” revealed West.

Who’s to blame?

It’s difficult to blame the Premier League for the lack of quality the English game produces at youth level, as Scudamore admitted the ruling was not about “a nationality test,” only to encourage teams to develop young talent as opposed to splashing the cash.

Yet one must feel aggrieved at Scudamore and the PL for failing to address or tackle the decline in Englishmen plying their trade in England.

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