Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke today outlined new proposals to change the rules governing home grown players in English football.
The recommendations are the latest in a series of initiatives identified as part of the England Commission, set up by Dyke in 2013 to look at ways of improving the chances of young English talent succeeding at the highest levels of the game.
Following FA-led discussions the Home Office has also confirmed changes to the existing work permit regulations, to ensure only the most talented non-EU players meet new criteria.
The changes to the home grown player rules as proposed by Dyke are:
- A change in the definition of home grown player to any player, irrespective of their nationality, who has been registered with any club affiliated to The FA or Football Association of Wales (FAW) for a period of three years prior to the player’s 18th birthday (currently the definition states a home grown player has to be registered with The FA or FAW for three years before their 21st birthday).
- A reduction in the maximum number of non-home grown players permitted in a club’s first team squad of 25 from 17 to 13, phased over four years from 2016. This would have the effect of ensuring that in a squad of 25, 12 players would have to be home grown.
- The introduction of a requirement that at least two home grown players are also club trained players (a club trained player is defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their current club prior to their 18th birthday).
The England Commission identified four key areas which were contributing to a shortage of top quality English players breaking through to the top tier of club football. These were:
- A lack of quality coaching.
- An absence of quality facilities at grassroots level.
- A lack of opportunities for home grown players to play competitive first team football between the ages of 18 and 21.
- The regulation of the English players market’s effectiveness in preserving the desired balance of British, EU and non-EU players.
To start addressing these problems, in October 2014, The FA announced a major investment in coaching including a new head of coaching education at St. George’s Park, 35 full-time FA coach educators and a plan to drastically raise the number of Advanced Youth and Pro Licence coaching qualification holders.
The FA also announced a plan to create football hubs in 30 English cities by 2020, with a 130% increase in artificial grass pitches in urban areas and a 50% rise in publicly accessible full-size pitches.
“The FA’s duty is to create as many opportunities as possible for young home grown talent to compete at the highest level”
But Dyke believes the final part of the pipeline for young home grown talent is still broken. Today’s proposed rule changes are designed to fix this long running problem.
Young players in other leading European footballing nations are being given greater opportunities to play regular senior club football between the crucial ages of 18 and 21.
English Under-21 players are getting less than half the playing time of their German, Spanish and French equivalents across the major five European leagues.
For the 12 clubs who have played in every one of the last five Premier League seasons, the number of home grown players per squad has decreased from 11.4 to 9.4. This is exacerbated by the fact that only 62% of current home grown players are qualified to play for England.
Dyke said: “The Premier League clubs, who invest millions of pounds through their academies and the Elite Player Performance Programme (EPPP), are doing a fantastic job at developing young talent. But many of the home grown players being developed at these academies are not breaking through to play regular first team football.
“The Premier League has already recognised the problem and introduced home grown player quotas. But since those rules were introduced in 2010, the average number of home grown players in a Premier League squad has stayed largely the same and has actually decreased significantly at the 12 clubs who have been ever present in the League during that period.”
The FA will now embark on a period of consultation with all stakeholders in English football with the stated aim of introducing these changes over a phased four-season period so they are fully in force by the start of the 2019-2020 season.
Dyke added: “In 2014, just 23 English players were playing Champions League football. That compares with 78 Spanish players, 55 from Germany and even 51 from Brazil – and the numbers will only get worse. If we want to maintain a national side capable of competing against the world’s best, we need change.
“As the body responsible for all of English football, it’s The FA’s duty to create as many opportunities as possible for young home grown talent to compete at the highest level.
“This is not simply because it will increase the pool of quality players available to the England manager, but because the development of genuine, local talent is fundamental to the sustainability of our clubs and the health of our national game.
“These proposals will ensure that the letter of the law around home grown players matches the spirit in which they were first conceived. We want the whole of the English game to support these proposals.”