New ‘home-grown’ rules – helping or hindering?
In this blog I’m going to try and explain the new rules that are coming in this season and how they will affect the teams.
On the back of the attempt by UEFA to bring in a Europe wide rule on home grown players that failed (thanks’ to EU laws) the Premier League decided to bring in its own set of rules in to curb squad size’s & help produce youngsters. A team can now only have a squad of 25 registered players (over 21) and this squad must contain a minimum of 8 players that have been at an English or Welsh club for 3 years. If you don’t meet that squad allowance you have 2 choices, you can either register some of your under 21’s to make up the numbers, or face a penalty of have a smaller squad although you can still supplement this squad with unregistered U-21’s no matter how long they’ve played in the UK.
I’ve tried looking for the exact penalties if you can’t meet this rule but no one online seems to have a definitive answer, all I know is that right now Liverpool have 5 senior home grown players meaning they can only name a squad of 20 and then any U-21’s can play as well, this may well explain why Hodgson has shown an interest in players like Luke Young & Paul Konchesky recently to help supplement this number, the other team that could be forced to have a smaller squad is Chelsea who have 4 home grown players (unless they list Scott Sinclair to make it 5) meaning they will have to face reductions in squad size as well and the only surprising thing about this fact is they don’t really seem overly concerned with this having been linked most of the summer to players that don’t meet this criteria, meaning they will not be able to register the maximum 25 players.
Whilst Arsene Wenger has come out criticising the rule saying that it leaves players without clubs and that players will have to be sold at under their value to reduce squad numbers or go out on loan with the bigger team paying the wages for a player they can’t use or a smaller club over paying more than they can in wages, although considering the number of youngsters in the Arsenal squad I’m not sure why he’s unhappy with the rule.
I feel Wenger could be right to criticise the new rules however he is probably one of the prime examples of why the rule shouldn’t be bought in, when this rule was agreed what did we start seeing? Stories of European clubs suing English clubs for poaching youngsters started creeping out, first Chelsea with Kakuta, then Man Utd with Pogba, Liverpool with Max Clayton, Man City with Jeremy Helan & Everton with Luke Garbutt. Wenger himself is a prime example with the way he signed Fabregas, Merida and Vela and it’s not like Man Utd have ruffled feathers in this area either, the way they signed Pique, Macheda & Petrucci coming in to question as well.
The huge problem I think we will start to see as a result of the rule is clubs signing players much younger from abroad so they can qualify under the ‘home grown’ rule as nationality doesn’t matter. If this rule was bought in saying that they had to be English players it would clearly be beneficial to the English players, although youngsters would be poached from lower league clubs which would be a problem it would still mean the English players getting a chance and priority over non English players, but due to EU laws that’s considered too much of a restriction so nationality can’t be used in the rule.
Clubs will use this to persuade players to move to England younger, pointing out if you want to play in the Premiership then you have to start here younger so you can be part of the 25 squad instead of the 17 ‘non home grown players’ which you obviously have less chance of getting in to. So rather than seeing English youngsters being developed through we will just see more and more foreign players coming across in acrimonious deals, parents being bribed with pay offs and house’s and clubs falling out with their European colleagues.
Richard Scudamore basically admitted when the rule was announced in 2009 that this was designed to stop spend clubs spending huge amounts of money on players when they should be developing more youngsters, which is fine in principal but as we well know, there are more players that don’t live up to expectation than do, every club has had youngsters that they thought might be the next big thing but have ended up being average or slightly better and dropping down a league or moving away from England making the whole exercise pointless. Fran Merida at Arsenal is a prime example, Arsenal bought him up from Barcelona as a youngster at 17 with the player having to pay Barcelona 3.2m Euros for breaking a pre-contract agreement which doubtlessly Arsenal paid him in the form of a signing on fee or some sort of bonus, and then he spent the next 3 years at Arsenal before letting his contract run down and leaving this summer on a free to go back to Spain. Admittedly the payment was a one off but even taking that out, his wage was around £6k a week, so his wage for the 3 years he was there was just under £1m and that’s just his basic salary – wouldn’t that be much better spent on developing English talent? And how can teams lower down and outside the top 10 even compete? The big teams will start hording the younger players even more than they already do just in case they miss that special talent and don’t want to run the risk of having to pay millions to pick them up later on.
Also consider situations where a team like Liverpool, West Brom and Blackpool all go in for the same youngster, 9 times out of 10 the kid is going to want to join Liverpool because they are a bigger club, they have better facilities, great history and they will pay higher wages. This will leave these lower teams having to scrabble around trying to sign players that meet the criteria from lower down the league and in the long run that could well make the Premier League weaker and separate the top teams from the mid & lower table teams.
Right now it seems like the only teams that will be effected are the ones who have over inflated squads or are more interested in signing players than developing them however a lot of clubs outside the top teams will struggle, with Wolves, Fulham, Wigan, Bolton & Blackburn are all very close to being under the 8 player limit, and a lot of the players keeping them over those limits aren’t the kind of players they need to progress and develop.
It will be interesting to see if the new rules last and if they do have an impact on the game for the good, whilst I think in principle it’s a good idea whilst the rules state a player can be of any nationality I feel it’s just going to result in an influx of average young foreigners who end up qualifying as ‘home grown’ players and becoming over paid average players draining resources from clubs that could spend the money better elsewhere.
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