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You English?

By Steve Guy :  18/05/2010 :  Comments (22) :
How many English players do we have in our first team squad? The answer is, hopefully, just enough! In the 2010-11 season, all Premier League sides will be expected to have at least 8 English players in a squad of 25, according to the Guardian. I sort of knew this, but picked up on it again in reading about why the voracious Man City could well be after Rodwell and Jagielka (the latter being the new “flavour” of this year’s transfer window); to bolster the English contingent in their squad (as well as keeping players the scarf wearer would rather offload for the same reason).

Now this in itself is just one of a number of bits of tittle-tattle in the press. However, I think the issue of squad numbers behind the gossip is a cause for concern for a host of clubs, including Everton. Why? Because there aren’t enough quality English players to go around.

As we all know, since the re-invention of the old 1st Division, the EPL clubs implemented a strategy of bringing in significant numbers of foreign players. Initially, this was because those players were cheaper and deemed more skillful than their English counterparts.

However, in the last few years, one of the outcomes of this strategy is that the bulk of English players have been confined to the lower leagues. Players such as Jagielka have been the exception rather than the rule, with most managers not willing to take the risk on a player from the Championship and preferring to take the route of employing players from pretty much any other part of the globe.

I would personally agree with those who would say that, in many cases, the risk was greater and there are plenty of journeymen adorning the EPL to prove it; but it hasn’t stopped the trend. Worse still are the academies of many EPL Clubs, where money has been used to scour the best potential from across Europe; again to the detriment of English youth. Everton are guilty of this to a degree, but are also recognised for the home-grown talent we have nurtured. The two traditional pipelines for bringing on the best of English talent have been practically turned off.

So, for me, whether the aforementioned gossip is true in itself, it seems inevitable that English players who do have talent will increasingly become a very expensive commodity. For these individuals, “Player Power” will ratchet up a few more notches. The only winners will be the players themselves and the clubs who can afford them. <:P> Everton will have to not only start winning trophies to keep their best players (English or foreign), but also pay significantly inflated wages to hold on to the English contingent, or risk losing them to the deeper pockets of the likes of Man City. For Everton, this could mean that, regardless of the desire of Moyes and the club’s owners to retain our talent, we will lose the likes of Rodwell, Jagielka, Osman, Anichebe and maybe others such as Baxter; as those clubs who have got rich and successful off the backs of their foreign players look to ensure they are not subject to points penalties etc under the new system.

The ultimate concern for Everton as a club, and we as fans, is surely that we will, like other clubs, be forced into the lower leagues in search of hidden gems like Jagielka; but will be ultimately disappointed and left, again, chasing the coattails of the clubs with the silver spoons. The quality of the football we will be able to play could well be influenced by the requirement for over 30% of a squad having to be made up from players who can’t cut it at the EPL level; accentuating the disparity between the “top” Clubs and “the rest” and making the elusive chase for trophies even harder.

The longer term outcome would hopefully be the nurturing of English talent at all levels, re-dressing the balance, but will it be too late for Everton by then?

Reader Comments

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Eric Myles
1   Posted 19/05/2010 at 06:46:59

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I thought the regulation was for 'home grown' players being players of any nationality that have been in the Academy for 3 years between the ages of 18 and 21?
Michael Brien
2   Posted 19/05/2010 at 07:08:54

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I think that Eric is right on that point, so young European players would still be allowed to come through via the Academy system.

I know a great deal is made of there being an influx of average foreign players; however, I personally think that is a bit of a generalisation. In my opinion, many home grown players were priced out of the market by their clubs demanding ridiculous fees. I think it was back in 2001 that Walter Smith was quoted a fee of £6M for Bobby Zamora from Brighton. £6M for a striker who at that time was playing in the 3rd tier of English football was rather a lot even at that time. There is a young guy at Swindon who has been scoring goals for fun in the last couple of seasons. Do you reckon a Premier League would be prepared to pay £6M for him? And what would Swindon be asking?

As regards average foreign players, around the same time that Chris Sutton was transferred to Blackburn Rovers from Norwich City, Jurgen Klinsmann was signed by Spurs. I can't recall the exact figures, but I think that I am right in saying that Sutton cost the greater fee, possibly twice as much as Spurs paid to sign Klinsman. Who was the better player?

I think Klinsman was without doubt a far better player than Sutton ever was. I know those are only 2 examples, but a lot of the problems have been caused by totally unrealistic valuations by clubs in the 2nd, 3rd & 4th tier (I was tempted to put 'Divisions' !).

This is so, even in the Premier League — does anyone really believe that Lescott is twice the player that Vermulen is? Yet City paid £24M for Lescott and Arsenal paid about £11M for Vermulen.

The regulations that are planned have good intentions; however I don't believe they will solve the problems. The Super Rich clubs will continue to dominate, they will just pay silly money for top English/British players. There needs to be something to regulate the spending, along the lines of clubs only being able to spend a certain percentage of their income on salaries/transfers.

I don't know all the fine details of the Chester City situation, but basically a club went under because it owed about the same amount as a quarter of what Frank Lampard is paid in a week. Food for thought, I think.

Mark Stone
3   Posted 19/05/2010 at 09:39:28

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There are some shit hot English players in the Championship and beyond, not to mention warming the bench for for some of the top teams.
Ciarán McGlone
4   Posted 19/05/2010 at 09:59:12

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A bit of research probably would have helped on this one.
Steve Collins
5   Posted 19/05/2010 at 11:16:04

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Here is the link and article from the premier league website:,,12306~1804959,00.html

A home-grown player will be defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the Season during which he turns 21).‬‪
Steve Guy
6   Posted 19/05/2010 at 12:39:24

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I accept I may have been quick off the mark in defining the ruling as 'English' as opposed to 'homegrown'. The Guardian article from which I took my original theme stated, "the change in rules was agreed last September, in the words of the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, to demonstrate to the big-spending clubs that "you just can't buy a team from abroad". So thanks to those who took the time to get the absolute definition.

However, I do believe that the potential scenario for disaster is still there. Look at Scudamore's comment above, look at Academy policies at the big spenders, look at the paucity of "homegrown" other than English players in the EPL: there aren't even that many Scots anymore since their League got flooded too.

Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:11:38

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Again, with the reference to 'Scots' - you appear to be misunderstanding what 'home-grown' means...

All it means is that players that have come through the academy and will be registered in the senior team.
Ciarán McGlone
8   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:16:22

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... *any* academy in the UK.
James Stewart
9   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:30:47

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This new rule won't change a damn thing. It's utterly pointless and just a PR exercise.
Fran Mitchell
10   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:36:25

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Ciaran is right... Tim Cahill will be considered home-grown.

James is also right, it's a load of bollocks to pretend that they are doing something to protect English football. All it will do is put a higher price on average English players.

I doubt there is a single club who don't already fit this criteria.
Dave Lynch
11   Posted 19/05/2010 at 13:54:12

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It does not matter one jot where the players come from.

Whether EFC bring them through the youth system, aka Rodwell, or buy them from the lower leagues, aka Jagielka. When big or decent money is offered for them, we will sell.

The only way to protect football as a level playing field is to impose a wage cap. Otherwise, it's the same four for the foreseable future.

Ciarán McGlone
12   Posted 20/05/2010 at 13:29:44

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"Ciaran is right... e.g. Tim Cahill will be considered home-grown"

No, he won't.
Ciarán McGlone
13   Posted 19/05/2010 at 14:16:29

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Actually my calculation of that is based on 1998... I know Cahill left Oz in 97... anybody any idea what exact date he actually joined Millwall?

He might just scrape it..
Chad Schofield
14   Posted 19/05/2010 at 14:17:12

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Won't the system just produce "mongrel players"? How would they be categorized, with dual nationality or as lepers? So Fabregas would be English definition, Hargreaves German... and considering it's only a voluntary guide, it's pretty pointless — besides which, the moment it became a problem teams would refer to their players as European anyway — and if there were complaints about that then the accusers would most likely be labelled as racists.
Mike Green
15   Posted 19/05/2010 at 14:51:13

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Cahill signed for Millwall on 1st August 1997, aged 17 as his DOB is 6 December 1979.

Given the definition of home grown is a player trained for three years under the age of 21 by somebody in the English and Welsh professional system, he would have had 3 years and 5 months at Milwall under his belt, if I've got my maths right, and is therefore officially a "home grown" player.
Martin Mason
16   Posted 19/05/2010 at 14:57:08

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But surely football can't break European employment law?

I also believe that a lot of clubs are after Jagielka because he is bloody good, not because he's English. A selling club would obviously sell Phil because it would be maybe 500% profit. Let's see what Everton are? Maybe we are destined to be a selling club and do brilliantly despite that? You have to admit that Everton are good at selling high and buying low? I'm not convinced about Bily though but what a buy Heitinga was. How was he missed by the top clubs?

My own feeling is that we must keep our good players even if it means not buying.
Eric Myles
17   Posted 19/05/2010 at 16:23:57

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And don't, forget that there are many foreign players that can get British nationality eg. Arteta.
Ciarán McGlone
18   Posted 20/05/2010 at 13:33:38

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'Getting British nationality' is irrelevant.
Christine Foster
19   Posted 21/05/2010 at 05:43:45

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It raises a few interesting points regarding the speed that many EPL clubs go overseas to recruit talent as a quick fix rather than than the risk of a player not being able to raise his game from the championship to the Premier league.

Lest anyone forget Everton have succeeded in broadly doing so under Moyes realm, so it goes to show it can be done.

There is a perception that anyone not playing in the EPL is not good enough to step up, frankly thats rubbish. I believe there are lots of players who COULD step up and be very successful BUT the risk associated in doing so is the problem. For every 5 you take a chance on perhaps only one or two will make it. We have seen good youth talent not make it within our own ranks so its a game of chance. With the emphasis and levels of expectation being so high, time is a precious commodity and thats really the problem. Moyes has had the time to bring players on because frankly he had no other choice. Where money and now possible overseas player are limited we may find that other clubs will have no choice either. All of a sudden a more level playing field, which is the intention, begins to be forced onto clubs.

The difficulty in this approach is that the world class players will always go where the money is and the quality of football is of a high level. Without either of these the premier league itself would be a lesser league. Is that what we would like to see or have our own expectations been raised to unrealistic levels?
Callum Wilson
20   Posted 21/05/2010 at 07:40:36

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What would people say to it being British players instead of English? Being English, I personally do like to see English players in the squad BUT only if they are good enough. If it was British we would be in a lot better position. Just a bit of food for thought and hopefully open a bit of conversation.
Steve Pugh
21   Posted 21/05/2010 at 08:12:18

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Let us not forget that the 8 homegrown players are part of a 25 man squad, the clubs that will suffer are those with a large number of foriegn players in their squads.

Take Liverpool as an example, the season just finished they had a first team squad of 40 players, about 14 of which would qualify as being home grown or under 21. This leaves them with 26 players to fill 17 places in the squad, so 9 players will be left knowing that they will not get a game.

Then there are the 14 qualifiers, Gerrard, Carragher and Johnson would get into the squad anyway, probably so would Stephen Darby, but then there are the likes of Peter Galuasci, David Martin, Martin Kelly and Nathan Ecclestone, who simply aren't good enough. So yes they could fulfill the requirements but at what cost.

We are very fortunate to have Timmy, Nev, Ossie, Jags, Baines, Vic, and Rodders as established first team players, as well as Coleman, Vaughan, Turner, Ruddy, Baxter, etc on the fringes. In other words, no upheavals at Everton, but lots elsewhere I feel.
Richard Parker
22   Posted 21/05/2010 at 09:15:06

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I presume that you can name a homegrown player in your squad of 25, even if they are under the age of 21?

Can someone confirm, for example, if Everton wanted to, they could use Rodwell, Gosling and Baxter in the 8 of 25 home grown senior players?

It doesn't make much difference to us, as things stand we fulfil the quota with players over 21 years of age, but we can't afford to lose many senior English players.

It will put a massive premium on U21 players and, even more so, those who can be brought in from overseas more than 3 years before their 21st birthday.

I think that some people are underestimating the effect this could have on the bigger clubs.

Take the example of Chelsea, they have 11 home grown players, 4 of which are regular starters, another 4 are subs/on loan, the remaining 3 I've never heard of. So there's the 8. They then have 29 foreign players, of which about 5 or 6 are under 21 next season. That means they have to trim probably 6 of their woolly-gloved foreign superstars from their squad.

The new rules certainly won't revolutionise the Premier League, but it will give more young players and more English players a chance to play at the top level. It might even the playing field a tiny bit for a year or 2, but the rich clubs will buy all the top young talent to keep squad numbers up.

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