I welcome Greg Dyke’s comments about wanting to decrease the number of none EU players in the Premier League.
His commission found that 122 none EU footballers had entered the country since 2009, a figure he wants halved. He also wants restrictions placed on loan signings, amongst other things.
It will be hard to enforce, “restriction of trade” will be claimed, but I believe it is a step in the right direction, and not before time.
That is a sentiment that stands for not only the England national team, but also smaller sides such as Tranmere Rovers, or Exeter City or Crewe.
Such clubs need to sell young stars, players who were the pride and joy of the fans, to stay afloat. Just look at the money Tranmere have made from the likes of Ryan Taylor, Jason Koumas and Kenny Irons. That cash helps pay wages, clear debts and balance books.
And it’s no coincidence that as the number of players moving to England from abroad has increased, the amount of kids who kick on in the Premier League after making a name for themselves in the Football League has decreased.
That pathway is blocked. Sides no longer need to delve into the lower divisions for a player who will need time and investment to develop, when they can sign a ready made lad from South America.
That in turn, of course, has an effect on the national team. Roy Hodgson gets plenty of stick, and some of it perhaps justifiably, for the way England perform.
But the pool of players he has to choose from compared to, for example, Glenn Hoddle at France ’98, is seriously depleted.
If you watch the TV footage from Michael Owen’s stunning goal against Argentina in that World Cup, it cuts to the bench where you can see the likes of Paul Merson, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand and Martin Keown celebrating. Imagine being able to call upon talent like that from your subs!
Fast forward to Brazil 2014 and the England backroom staff would have been looking at Chris Smalling, James Milner and Phil Jones – hardly players of the same calibre as those listed above!
Let’s just look at that World Cup squad though. Roy Hodgson took 23 players to South America. How many do you think have spent time as a youngster with a club outside of the Premier League?
Arguments can be made over the actual figure, due to promotions, relegations and the like, but by my reckoning it is nine – including Raheem Sterling who started at QPR, Joe Hart who was brought through at Shrewsbury, and Rickie Lambert, who played all over the country.
So it just shows the Football League creates hugely talented players – if only the Premier League would look there!
To be fair, that is a tad harsh. Some clubs have signed from within Britain in recent years. Three that come to mind for me are Dwight Gayle at Crystal Palace and Aston Villa duo Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood.
But that is simply scratching the surface of what is out there.
Oh, and I have not even mentioned the Elite Player Performance Plan…!