Since the England football team’s elimination from Euro 2008, there has been a great deal of discussion over the vexed question of how to improve the quality of home-grown footballers.
The usual, protectionist stance, has it that the problem could be solved by reducing, through capping, the number of foreign football players. They believe this would give more opportunities for young home-grown footballers to develop, by having more first team opportunities, meantime denied them.
But, footballers from the European Union xôi lạc tv cannot be prevented from playing in England (or Scotland), since every EU citizen has the legal right to ply their trade in any EU country they choose. A cap on players from other non-European countries could be applied though, and, some are suggesting a capping level of 2 or 3 foreign players per club.
However, the whole idea is predicated on the notion that there is a stream of talented, home-grown footballers who are not being given the opportunity to develop fully, because their clubs’ first team squads have too many foreign stars blocking their development path into the first team.
But if there was such a talented supply, surely clubs would not have to look abroad? And the flower of English talent — the England Euro 2008 squad who all play for top sides and have not been denied their chances — were not good enough. And, remember, the media were lauding the squad as the strongest for decades!
Professional clubs today are businesses who naturally want the biggest return on their investment. All things being equal, if they could buy British players of the same quality and price, they would certainly do so. And if they had enough talent coming through their club systems and academies, there would be less need to buy overseas players. So, the actions of the clubs themselves imply that there just is not the home-grown talent out there, and where there is, it may often be over-priced.
Some of the very best footballers in the British Isles right now are foreigners. There is no doubt that the standard of football being played now, especially in the English Premiership, is of the very highest quality, with the result that TV audiences around the world are huge. This is due, in no small part, to the influx of highly gifted foreign players over the last 10 years or so.
In the main, the foreign imports are providing fantastic role models for youngsters today, not only in their skill and fitness levels, but in their professional attitude to the game.
And do not let us forget the important role that foreign managers have played in improving standards. As we speak four out of the top seven teams in the English Premiership have managers from overseas; with two Scots and an Irishman making up the remainder. In addition, the FA have gone for another foreign coach — Fabio Capello — for the England national football team.
So, would putting a cap on imports help young players’ development? The simple answer is, it would not. It is purely a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction from those within the game — including some of the media — who, in their arrogance, cannot get their heads around the notion that many other countries are producing far more talented players than England, and spending a lot less money doing it.