Let’s cut the number of foreigners, that’ll help England, right?
In a move to improve the fortunes of the senior England football team (and to justify the expense of a report he commissioned), FA chairman Greg Dyke announced plans that would require Premier League clubs to name 12 ‘home-grown’ players in their 25-man squads, an increase of four from the current requirement of eight ‘home-grown’ players.
Also, the definition of ‘home-grown’ would change from ‘a player trained at a club in England/Wales for three years before his 21st birthday‘, to ‘a player trained at a club in England/Wales for three years before his 18th birthday’.
In theory, it makes sense; the more English players playing top-level football, the more players the England manager will be able to choose from.
In practice, it’s far more complicated, primarily due to Premier League clubs’ reluctance to essentially bar themselves from assembling the best possible squads they can, just so a team they have no control over can become better.
As of today, Manchester City have six home-grown players in their squad, and two of them are Frank Lampard and Richard Wright, who are both expected to leave in the summer.
Chelsea have three in theirs, and only one of those, John Terry, is a player who has come through their own academy.
Not having the required eight home-grown players means that both clubs have had to play the season with smaller squads than they’d prefer, and any further increase in the home-grown quota would only restrict them even further, as they would have to either promote more academy players than they would wish to, or overpay for another club’s home-grown player (hello, £30m Luke Shaw).
Arsenal, on the other hand, are not in so much trouble.
They have seven home-grown players in their Premier League squad, plus Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers, as well as Hector Bellerin, Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem who will become home-grown within the next 18 months.
So if these new rules were to come in, we’d lose the ability to name Wojciech Szczesny and Francis Coquelin as home-grown, but we have five players to replace them. Add in any other academy prospects like Dan Crowley, and Arsenal’s need to buy players just to fill a potential ‘home-grown’ quota, is extremely small.