FA Chairman Greg Dyke has said that he fears English football could be in danger of “having nothing to do with English people” as England’s football governing body outlines proposals to limit the number of non-EU players in squads, changes which could hit Chelsea hard should they be enforced.
The Blues only fielded two English players in their starting XI against Hull on Sunday, with Gary Cahill and John Terry representing England in a team which contained players of four other nationalities. Chelsea’s substitute bench also only contained one English player, Ruben Loftus-Cheek sitting alongside six players of another four nationalities. Manchester City only fielded three English players across their two legs with Barcelona in the Champions League, this coming after Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who is on loan in Italy with Fiorentina, heavily criticised England’s top teams for not allowing academy players a chance by signing foreign players.
It is an issue which has created a lot of talk, with the English Premier League having around 60% of its players being foreigners. This is compared to the German Bundesliga, which only has around 33% of players in the league who are foreign. And it now seems Mr. Dyke, who has promised to resolve this issue since he was installed as Chairman in 2013, has started moving the wheels of change, with new regulations planned for the rules on home-grown talent and a set of new stricter rules on work permits, which will be introduced on the 1st May. These are the key points:
Currently, players must have played at least 75% of their country’s internationals over the past two years. That will now change according to ranking. Players must play at least 30% of matches in the last two years if their country is in the top 10, 45% if ranked between 11th and 20th, 60% between 21st and 30th and 75% if between 31st and 50th.
Player currently must have played for a country in the top 70 when rankings are averaged over two years. That will be lowered to the top 50.
All players are currently measured over the last two years. The new regulations will allow leeway for players aged 21 or under to only fulfil the criteria for the previous 12 months.
The FA estimates that 33% of the players who gained entry under the old system would not have been granted a work visa under the new rules. That means that over the last five years there would have been 42 fewer non-European players playing in the Premier and Football Leagues.
These are the new rules planned regarding home-grown players:
A player will have to have been registered with his club from the age of 15 – down from 18 – to qualify as ‘home-grown’.
The minimum number of home-grown players in a club’s first-team squad of 25 will increase from eight to 12, phased over four years from 2016.
At least two home-grown players must also be ‘club-trained’ players – defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their club from the age of 15.
Only the best non-EU foreign players will be granted permission to play in England.
Dyke referred to English striker Harry Kane, who has 19 Premier League goals for Tottenham Hotspur this season aged only 21. Dyke said “We have to do this by negotiation with the different leagues and with the clubs – we have to convince them that this makes sense for English football. And we are helped by Harry Kane in truth – we are helped by seeing a young kid come into the Spurs team and become the top scorer in English football.”
“How many other Harry Kanes are around in the youth teams of Premier League clubs? It was almost by chance that Tim Sherwood became manager at Tottenham for a time and put him in the side – otherwise he would still be out on loan at Millwall or somewhere else.”
The regulations, if approved, could hit Chelsea hard with a meagre five players out of their 25-man squad being English. The rest of the Chelsea team is made up of 10 other nationalities, including Belgian, Spanish, Ivorian and Brazilian. If these regulations were to be enforced, despite keeping some of their big stars like Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic, the Blues could lose other big names such as Oscar, Willian and John Obi Mikel.