Well, it had to happen. There have been rumblings of there being too many foreign players in the Premiere League, and people have been drawing analogies to the (relative) resurgence of Scotland on the international scene after the collapse of television rights fees in Scotland forced clubs to shop locally.
So of course the main thing is for politicians to get involved:
The Premier League is in discussions with Downing Street over ways in which it can increase the number of home-grown players appearing regularly for England’s leading clubs. Discussions have begun with senior advisers to the prime minister and James Purnell, the culture secretary, to try to develop a consensual “British solution” to the apparent decline in the number of British and Irish players in the nation’s top sides. The Premier League is acutely aware of the criticism that will flow its way over the issue if England fail to qualify for Euro 2008.
Well of course they are. And Gordon Brown is no doubt aware that middle England, who are already inclined to dislike him on the grounds of being Scottish and obviously clever – to say nothing of being Labor and tainted by associated with Blair – will not look kindly on that sort of failure either.
Fail to qualify for England? There’s nothing for you here!
Weak political cynicism aside, as noted above the Scottish game only went local because they were broke. The English Premiere League is in rude financial health (emphasis on rude) so that incentive doesn’t appear likely. And while there probably is a better balance to be struck in the number of players from England on a given team, that doesn’t do anything about the short supply of good coaches, the patchwork nature of academies, the declining numbers of youth players, etc., etc.
Addressing one part of the demand side of this equation might get more English players on the field. Presumably supporters hope to find the next Paul Gascoigne or Kevin Keegan; however if local content laws for things like Canadian music have given us Brian Adams and Celine Dion (not to my taste, may be to yours, chac’un à son gout as they say in Montreal), I’d be more worried about fielding an England team with the likes of Darren Anderton. An increase in demand usually prompts a regression to the mean.
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