Making The Cut

by Neil Sherwin

With two weeks to go until the start of the new Premier League season, Neil Sherwin looks at the requirements managers must now meet to whittle their first team squad down to just 25.

In a radical change for the coming season, Premier League clubs will be required to submit a squad of 25 players to the FA, and this group must include at least eight ‘home grown’ players.

According to the official Premier League website -

A home grown player is defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Welsh Football Association 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).

Clubs will be able to supplement their squads with unlimited additional players under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences, and they can also add a goalkeeper to the squad if two out of three named originally are injured.

There is no set requirement for a full squad of 25 to be submitted if a club does not have enough contracted players, and free agents may be added at any stage outside the windows. The new rules are similar to those used in European competition where clubs are required to submit a squad at various stages throughout.

Speaking at the announcement back in September of last year, FA chief executive Richard Scudamore said he believes it is a good move for nurturing young English talent and the national team will reap the benefits further down the line.

“It’s not in the club’s interests to stockpile players. It will make buying home-grown talent more attractive,” he said.

“We’re not going down the route of a nationality test but what this will mean is that you just can’t buy a team from abroad. We think it will give clubs an extra incentive to invest in youth. We think that one of the benefits will be that it will help the England team.”

However, not everyone shares Scudamore’s enthusiasm.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has benefitted greatly from buying cheap, young foreign players and turning them into superstars, says that the move is “disastrous decision for football and for the players”.

“I am not a big fan of it because it puts, first of all, many players without clubs,” he said.

“Secondly it puts the clubs in a weak position most of the time in the transfer market because when you already have 25 players and you buy another one, you know you have 26 and now have to get rid of one.

“So when you buy a player, you have to integrate into the transfer how much it will also cost to get rid of a player because you are not sure if you will be capable after of selling the player.

“This is a disastrous decision for football and for the players. I was quite amazed that the union [PFA] accepted that. For the clubs as well it is a very bad decision.”

Wenger may not lose out too much however as ‘home grown’ players aren’t necessarily English, with Cesc Fabregas a prime example having come through the Arsenal academy despite beginning his career in his native Spain with Barcelona.

The most likely losers in this new setup are injury prone players or those who are currently carrying long term knocks as clubs can no longer afford to have them taking up a spot on the ‘roster’.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp echoed Wenger’s sentiments, claiming the move will make no difference.

“If the young players are good enough, they’ll come through,” he said.

“And if you’re having to play them just because they’re young and English but they’re not good enough, then the league won’t improve. They’ve got to be good enough, wherever they’re from.

“You might also get some kids who get in the 25 and then put their feet under the table and don’t work on their game. You’ve got to deserve to be in there, rather than just having them for the sake of it, token players.”

Meanwhile, FIFA confirmed in June that it has scrapped plans to bring in the much maligned ’6+5′ rule and will now explore other options to encourage youth development.

How is your club shaping up? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ section below!

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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1 Response

  1. Cezar Moise says:

    This is stupid.
    Shouldn’t being part of the EU mean equal opportunities for all nationalities?
    I can’t believe I’m saying this but Redknapp is right. If they are good enough they’ll play.

    If the FA want to help the national team and promote young English players in the PL, they should do one simple thing : SCALE PRIZE MONEY TO THE NUMBER OF ENGLISH PLAYERS.

    Not home-grown, but eligible to play for England.
    And not the number in the squad, but the number that actually played enough to be eligible for a medal if the club won something.

    This way, it also helps to make the league more competitive, since the clubs in the bottom half are the ones with usually the most English players, so they’ll get more money than usual.

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