EPL Chief: “It is nonsense” to blame Premier League for England’s demise

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Richard Scudamore finally hit the roof when asked about something that repeatedly pops up during his press conferences.

The English Premier League’s riches has resulted in players brought in from across the globe, but many believe that has harmed the English national teams chances.

But EPL Chief Executive Scudamore refuted such claims, defending the league against recent claims from the English national team that not enough young English talent is given the chance to play regularly in the EPL.

“There were 210 players qualified to play for England, playing in the Premier League last year,” said Scudamore. “And we ought to be able to find 11 to take the field to do well. Those players are playing week in, week out against the world’s best talent.”

Scudamore has a point.

He has held his position as Chief Exec. of the EPL since 1999 and in that time the Premier League has grown exponentially. However the English national team has diminished as a world power and with the percentages of foreigners playing in England on the rise, Scudamore spoke further about how the EPL aims to bring through more young English talent.

Our responsibility is to make sure the youth development systems in this country are as good as they can be. That huge investment, ¬£320m, in the elite performance plan is starting to see results. We’re starting to see more English-qualified people coming through the academies, we’re starting to see more take part in first teams. All we can do is be responsible for some of the input. Clearly, our responsibility ends once those players go off and are selected.

The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has been banded around wholeheartedly in recent years as the answer to all of the English national teams problems. But after England’s U-21 side lost every game at the European Championships and the U-20 side didn’t win a group game at the World Cup, criticism has been rife from ex-players and managers who believe the EPL’s module is hindering the national team.

But how do you really solve this conundrum? There is simply no easy solution.

English Under-21s made up 2.28 percent of the total minutes played by EPL players during the 2012-13 season. In the German Bundesliga, that figure was 6.22 percent. So how can more young Englishmen get minutes in the EPL?

(MORE: The FA is in a tizzy over the Premier League schedule)

Except from putting huge limitations on the number of foreign players each team can play — say five in the starting lineup max, or no more than seven in the match day squad of 18 — there is no easy fix. And we all know that EPL chiefs will not restrict their clubs to how many foreign stars they can buy and play.

Simply put, the EPL has outgrown the English national team. Back when it was founded in 1992, even the greatest optimist wouldn’t have predicted the global hotbed England’s top-flight has now become as soccer fans across the world regard it as the best of the best. That is in terms of commercial success, on field play, venues and fan experience, really whatever you want to measure it by.

The English Premier League does have a huge part to play in the English national teams success. But it seems as if the point of no return has been crossed. The tipping point has been reached, now English youngsters will find it harder than ever to grace England’s top-flight with their presence.

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

[ Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin¬†— 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva¬†— 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv¬†— 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET