“How many other Harry Kanes are around in the youth teams of Premier League clubs?”
That’s what FA chairman Greg Dyke is hoping to find out, and he’s got his wish. Thanks to a new rule outline revealed today, English clubs will have much stricter guidelines when it comes to foreign players coming to the league in a few years.
Dyke believes the sheer volume of foreign players coming to the Premier League is blocking the path of some English players and stunting their growth. “We believe too many talented English kids are currently not getting through the system and being lost,” Dyke said. He pointed to Harry Kane, Tottenham’s 21-year-old striker who came seemingly from nowhere and is suddenly one of the top scores in the league this year.
“It was almost by chance that Tim Sherwood became manager at Tottenham for a time and put him in the side,” Dyke pointed out. “Otherwise he would still be out on loan at Millwall or somewhere else.
So now, thanks to Kane’s success, Dyke has convinced the FA to run with his plan. The guidelines include:
- “Homegrown players” must be registered with their club by age 15, a drop from the current required age of 18
- The minimum required number of “homegrown players” on a 25-man roster will increase to 12, from the current minimum of eight.
- The rules will introduce a requirement of two “club-trained” players – defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their current club from the age of 15.
There will also be a serious increase in the restrictions placed on work permits issued to non-European based players. As the BBC puts it, “Only the best non-EU foreign players will be granted permission to play in England, with the process for dealing with appeals to be tightened.”
Dyke said that while he isn’t trying to decrease the talent level of the league, he hopes to weed out the lower-level players eating up spots for English talent. As a result, many of the players currently in the league wouldn’t have been allowed to sign up. “If you apply the system we are just introducing over the last five years, a third of non-EU overseas players that have come here wouldn’t get in,” Dyke said. “We don’t want to stop the outstanding talent coming here, but there are an awful of bog-standard players as well.
He outlined a timeline that would slowly introduce the rules over the next few years, allowing teams time to thin their rosters to become compliant with the new guidelines.
“If we could get all this through, over the next three, four or five years, you could see the numbers of home-grown players going up from a percentage in the high 20s to 40%,” Dyke said. “It matters that this happens across the whole of English football, but it particularly matters to the top end of the Premier League.”
According to the Associated Press, the new rules would have prevented American players such as Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea from signing with Premier League clubs. Both men signed with Stoke City, with Cameron joining in 2012 and Shea coming to England a year later.