The FA understands that England have significantly less talent at the national team level than many other footballing nations, and have for many years. While their youth teams tend to do fairly well, the senior side is often lagging well behind the rest of the world at major tournaments, as evidenced at basically every World Cup or European championship held since I was born.
With that in mind, FA chairman Greg Dyke has proposed the following changes to the FA's home grown player regulations, which he believes will help make England's national team (which is still managed by Roy Hodgson) a bit less inept:
- A change in the definition of home grown player to any player, irrespective of their nationality, who has been registered with any club affiliated to The FA or Football Association of Wales (FAW) for a period of three years prior to the player’s 18th birthday (currently the definition states a home grown player has to be registered with The FA or FAW for three years before their 21st birthday).
- A reduction in the maximum number of non-home grown players permitted in a club’s first team squad of 25 from 17 to 13, phased over four years from 2016. This would have the effect of ensuring that in a squad of 25, 12 players would have to be home grown.
- The introduction of a requirement that at least two home grown players are also club trained players (a club trained player is defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their current club prior to their 18th birthday).
Dyke seems to have correctly identified one of the major issues facing homegrown talent, the ability of players between the ages of 18-21 to break into the first team. Unfortunately, this proposal does very little to actually solve that problem.
"The Premier League clubs, who invest millions of pounds through their academies and the Elite Player Performance Programme (EPPP), are doing a fantastic job at developing young talent. But many of the home grown players being developed at these academies are not breaking through to play regular first team football."
First and foremost, the EPPP was approved in October, 2011, and didn't take effect until the 2012/13 season kicked off. To expect to see results from changes made to the youth system after less than three full seasons is asinine at best, and that's probably putting it far too lightly. The EPPP will eventually have some sort of impact, but we're still years away from seeing those results.
More importantly, however, is that many smaller clubs were very much against the proposal at the time, because it was viewed as nothing but a tool allowing England's richest clubs to cherry pick the best talent from the country due to the FA's first attempt at home grown player restrictions. Those against the proposal thought that the top talent in the country would simply be hoarded away at the biggest and the best, forcing poorer English clubs to rely more heavily on foreign talent than they did before, while reducing the quality of the top English talent actually playing Premier League football. Got an update on that, Greg?
"The Premier League has already recognized the problem and introduced home grown player quotas. But since those rules were introduced in 2010, the average number of home grown players in a Premier League squad has stayed largely the same and has actually decreased significantly at the 12 clubs who have been ever present in the League during that period."
Huh. Who could have possibly seen that one coming? I mean, forcing clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United to snap up any English player out there with a scrap of ability in order to round out their squad couldn't possibly lead to those players being put into situations where they were inferior options, could it? Simply getting guys like Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell to Champions League clubs will definitely solve the dilemma of too little talent in the English squad, as English clubs will definitely play these guys over more talented, foreign options like David Silva and Yaya Toure for the good of queen and country. Right? Right?
"In 2014, just 23 English players were playing Champions League football. That compares with 78 Spanish players, 55 from Germany and even 51 from Brazil – and the numbers will only get worse. If we want to maintain a national side capable of competing against the world’s best, we need change."
You know what won't help with that issue, Greg? Making English players infinitely more valuable to English non-Champions League clubs who are flush with cash due to the new TV deal than they are to far less-wealthy Champions League sides from all over Europe. As it stands, only the truly elite 'home grown' talent out there (and there's very little of that) makes any sense for a continental club.
The inflation factor caused by putting a premium on home grown talent means that very few English players will ever get to experience the Champions League with a non-English club, as only English clubs will have any reason to pay that premium with non-English talent being considerably more budget friendly for clubs in France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, or Spain. Loads of Spanish, German, and Brazilian players will get opportunities at clubs all over Europe, as Dyke rightfully noted. The FA's new proposal will ensure that English talent never has that opportunity, though.
England has had a problem for years in developing world class talent, and Dyke's ridiculous proposal won't do anything to help it. Instead of trying to force the biggest clubs in England to use English talent in bit-part roles, he should focus on creating a system in which that talent can continue to develop with the better coaches in the country, while still giving them meaningful minutes at an appropriate level. Try pushing harder for B teams, or try to create a system which allows bigger clubs to recall young players from a loan spell to help cover their short-term injuries. If that won't work, find a way to make English talent viable for clubs in other leagues, opening up more doors for those players.
Fortunately though, there's little hope that 14 Premier League clubs will have any interest in passing this idiotic proposal.