FA chairman Greg Dyke has warned Premier League football is in danger of “having nothing to do with English people” as new proposals to limit the number of non-EU players are outlined by English football’s governing body.
The FA has also revealed plans to toughen the rules on home-grown talent in the latest proposals from its commission, which was set up in 2013 to improve the England team.
The commission has also proposed changes to work permit rules having highlighted flaws in the system.
The stricter work-permit rules, approved by the Home Office on Friday, will come into force from 1 May.
Under the proposals outlined by FA on Monday:
- A player will have to have been registered with his club from the age of 15 – down from 18 – to qualify as ‘home-grown’.
- The minimum number of home-grown players in a club’s first-team squad of 25 will increase from eight to 12, phased over four years from 2016.
- At least two home-grown players must also be ‘club-trained’ players – defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their club from the age of 15.
- Only the best non-EU foreign players will be granted permission to play in England.
Speaking to the BBC’s sports editor Dan Roan, Dyke explained the rationale behind the FA’s new proposals by highlighting the impact of Harry Kane.
The Tottenham striker, 21, only made his first Premier League start for Spurs in April 2014, and is this season’s top scorer with 19 goals.
“We have to do this by negotiation with the different leagues and with the clubs – we have to convince them that this makes sense for English football,” said Dyke.
“And we are helped by Harry Kane in truth – we are helped by seeing a young kid come into the Spurs team and become the top scorer in English football.
“How many other Harry Kanes are around in the youth teams of Premier League clubs? It was almost by chance that Tim Sherwood became manager at Tottenham for a time and put him in the side – otherwise he would still be out on loan at Millwall or somewhere else.”
“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 added.
“We don’t want to stop the outstanding talent coming here, but there are an awful lot of bog-standard players as well.
“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%. It matters that this happens across the whole of English football, but it particularly matters to the top end of the Premier League.
“The future England team by and large play for the top six sides. If you look in Germany, or Spain, it’s always the same. And amongst the top six sides the decline in English players is quite marked.
“If you look at who is playing in the Champions League, the English numbers compared to the Germans, the Spanish or the Brazilians, are pathetic.”
Former England full-back Danny Mills sits on the FA commission established by Dyke two years ago.
“Something like 95% of work permit appeals go through. On what basis? We want the creme de la creme ,” said Mills.
“We want the best players. But we are starting to get foreign players in the Championship and League Two. That reduces the number of English players who can come through the system.
“It matters to the English game. Harry Kane is adored. Fans will always have an affinity to the local lad or English players. It bridges the gap between superstar and fan, between the exceptional and the normal.
“It is very important that those links stay there.”
Former Arsenal striker John Hartson says the FA need to be careful about bringing in new rules as foreign players can help to improve their English counterparts.
“The best players I ever worked with were Dennis Bergkamp and Henrik Larsson,” said the ex-Wales international. “I learned so much from them.
“Having 12 English players in a squad may not be a bad rule but you don’t want to prevent good foreign players coming over and playing in this country.
“By that, you could miss out on a couple of really good foreign players who could be of benefit to the Premier League.”
Lee Canoville, a former Arsenal defender who left the club in 2001 having made just one senior appearance in four years, welcomed the proposals.
“If the FA can limit the number of foreign players in a squad, that will help,” he said. “A world-class player is entitled to come and play in the Premier League. But players who are not quite ready? What is the difference between our lads who are not quite ready? A rule needs to come in.
“Something obviously has to be done, because who knows in 10 more years what is going to happen, The Premier League will still be going, I am sure, it will still be exciting and brilliant but everyone wants that buzz back when we can look forward to the World Cup and European Championships.
“It is so important these young lads, like Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane, get their chance. I am sure there are a lot more players out there who just need that chance.”