Kick off to the new Premier League season is less than two weeks away and clubs will have a new rule to adhere to. Every club voted to sanction a new home grown quota system that will be used from this season onwards. So what does this mean exactly? As of next season clubs will have to submit a first team squad of 25 once the August transfer window closes and do similar at the end of the January transfer window. Of this, eight must be home-grown, meaning they must have trained in England for three years prior to their 21st birthday. In addition, clubs can supplement their squad of 25 with players that are under 21 prior to January 1 of that season- for this season it is any player born in 1990 – meaning that squad sizes could amount to the named 25 plus any number of teenagers that the club have earmarked for first team duties.
The rule also prevents bigger clubs from stock piling players. If a player over 21 years of age is not named in the 25 man squad, then he will be unable to play any part in Premier League games until the next registration window. This ensures that talented youngsters are not left to stagnate in the reserves, something that will also help reduce the wage bills of clubs with a high playing staff. However, the main concern with this ruling is the definition of ‘home-grown’. Under the quota Cesc Fabregas is determined home-grown, having been nurtured at Arsenal since the age of 16. The midfielder is one of a number of foreign prospects who have joined the club at a young age, progressing through the academy and into the first team. With this in mind, the new regulation will have little impact on the Arsenal first team yet other top clubs may struggle. Liverpool have moved to increase their collection of home-grown players this summer. The signing of Joe Cole on a free transfer and teenager Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton Athletic, plus Roy Hodgson’s apparent pursuit of Scott Parker, indicates that the club’s transfer policy has identified domestic reinforcements.
Chelsea may have trouble coping with the new ruling, despite being linked with some of Europe’s brightest talents this summer. Ross Turnbull and Daniel Sturridge were both signed last year, potentially with the home-grown quota in mind. If you add this duo – who played just 15 times between them last season – to Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry, the current champions have just five Englishmen who featured last term. Extending the squad to 25 will at least give them a chance to name Scott Sinclair, Jack Cork and Sam Hutchison in the squad, who were once highly regarded as prospects for the future. Sinclair in particular found himself behind Nemanja Matic, Gael Kakuta and Fabio Borini in competing for a berth on the Chelsea bench, so it remains to be seen who Chelsea choose to make up their home-grown contingent. Yet the current Premier League champions maintain that conforming to the new regulations will not be a problem. The club says: “The new home-grown ruling will see us carry more domestic players than in recent seasons. We have Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole as mainstays of the team, but there are players on the edges of the squad that could get a chance. The number of home-grown players we can carry can be maintained. Jack Cork finished last season playing Premier League football on loan at Burnley and we have high hopes for Conor Clifford, who’s been impressing for some time in the reserves.”
With the cost of English players often at a premium, clubs will need to emphasise on producing their own, but the temptation to replicate the Arsenal model in recruiting young foreign talent remains. Providing they have been trained in England for three years before turning 21, they qualify as home-grown prospects. Under the new ruling Premier League clubs are able to name 17 foreign players should they choose, a luxury that will allow the league to protect its commercial interests, as clubs still have the ability to go out and sign international stars. Whilst the ruling has gone some way in attempting to increase the number of English players plying their trade regularly in the Premier League, the drawback is this compromise, which will still see teams scour the globe for the brightest talents in world football.