The FA chief wants to put in place a blueprint in domestic football that will allow England to win the World Cup in 2022 – something that he feels is not possible unless changes are made in the Premier League.
Despite argument and counter-arguments made since, a simple solution that allows the best for both the Premier League and the English national team exists. A quota on foreign players at Premier League clubs.
The benefits of having stars such as Robin van Persie, Vincent Kompany and Mesut Özil in English domestic football is obvious. It is foreign stars of this magnitude that make the Premier League the spell-bounding division that it is, attracting millions of fans from all over the world.
These players play critical roles in helping English sides to compete in European competition and will raise the standard of the game in the country no end. As a result home-grown players playing alongside and against them will be richer for the experience – no doubt.
My grievance is with the less well-known foreign imports that largely are on the fringes of starting XI’s up and down the land; every Premier League club is guilty of having some on their books. It is these players that are blocking opportunities for home-grown players, without adding to the collective standard of the game in England.
The introduction of a quota system, in which say each club is only allowed 10-12 foreign players in their 25-28 man first-team squad, is the answer. The Premier League will still have all its stars in place and the benefits they bring and it will force managers to be more measured in their transfer approach.
If this quota system was to be enforced today the players that would leave the Premier League would not be missed. The stars would remain, while the deadwood would be removed with British and Irish players brought in as replacements. Would the division or Premier League clubs be weaker for the experience? My argument is no.
Looking at Chelsea’s squad is a good example, as the west Londoners arguably have the most overseas imports of anyone in the division. Of their current 29 first-team players, only seven are English. In the quota system the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard would still be there. It would be players like Hilário, Tomáš Kalas, Nathan Aké and John Obi Mikel that would be sacrificed – would the west London club miss them?
The streamlining of the number of foreigners would give young home-grown players more of a chance to be exposed to first-team football. All of a sudden José Mourinho may well be looking at players such as Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah to make up his contingent. If given time and coaching, both have more than enough ability to be England internationals of the future. In the current climate their lack of Premier League football slows their development and has the potential to see them not make it at the highest level.
The quota system would hurt some clubs more than others but in the long-run would see a marked increase in the number of players at Roy Hodgson’s disposal for the national team. It would also see more of an emphasis put on youth development and each club’s academies, which can only be good for the game in England.
With only 32 per cent of the players that played in the Premier League last season eligible for England, it is clear that something has to be done. The quota system would have minimal negative repercussions for the Premier League but could make all the difference for the national side.