English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke has long sought to change the current work permit system that allows for a large number of non-European Union internationals the chance to compete in England. The BBC reported that in 2013, English players played under one-third of the minutes in the Premier League, in aggregate. Currently, many in England believe that international footballers coming to play in England’s Premier League and Championship are ruining the development of young English footballers, as many Premier League clubs promote less than one home-grown academy member per season. Even England manager Roy Hodgson echoes this sentiment and states that Premier League clubs are much more likely to try and buy an international star such as Radamel Falcao than try to develop English talent, like Danny Welbeck. Former Southampton star and England international and current Sky Sports broadcaster Matt Le Tissier also agrees with this sentiment, but states that the FA needs to intervene because managers such as Jose Mourinho do not have the responsibility to develop English players, but rather they are trying to buy the best talents for their clubs to succeed.
Currently players without an EU passport that want to play in England must have played in seventy-five percent of their national team’s matches over the past two years . Moreover, they must come from a country that is in the Top 70 of FIFA’s World Rankings. If players do not meet these standards, there is an appeals process, of which 79% are successful, which is a concerning percentage for Dyke. Due to this, Dyke has today proposed a new rule that would only require a player to have played in 30% of the national team’s matches over a two-year period, but this rule would also require that the nation that the footballer plays for must be in the Top 50 of FIFA’s World Rankings . Under this new rule, the appeals panel would be eliminated, so one would need to qualify under these new rules or they would not be able to play in England. However, if a player’s transfer fee costs more than 10 million pounds, they are not subject to this rule . This rule would in theory help young developing English players as instead of buying cheap international talent, English clubs would focus on buying and developing English talent. However, this new plan could backfire as clubs may turn to EU talent instead of English talent and instead it could help increase the talent of other EU countries which are competing against England in the European Championships and the World Cup. This would also make English clubs overpay to at least a ten million pound transfer fee if they wanted to purchase a player who was ineligible to gain a work permit under the new FA rules. However, this will disproportionally hurt smaller clubs more than bigger ones, as bigger clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City could afford to overpay for young international talent by a few million pounds, where smaller English clubs do not have the same financial resources and would struggle to pay ten million pounds for one player. Other proposals to increase the English talent playing in the Premier League have been introduced by other Englishmen in the past few years. Professional Footballers’ Association head Gordon Taylor believes that three homegrown players should be required to start every league game, which in theory would force the clubs to focus on development of youngsters, particularly young Englishmen who have been in the club’s academy for years.
As England has not won a World Cup since 1966 and went out in the group stage in Brazil, it is clear that something has to be done to restore their National Team to its former glory. Whether or not Dyke’s plan will succeed in doing this will have to be seen at a later date, but as for now it seems like it could be a move in the right direction for developing English talent. However, it alone might not be enough, and a plan like that of Gordon Taylor’s may also have to be implemented to start seeing a dramatic improvement in English footballers’ development.
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