Tuesday, 6 November 2007


An assist credited to the BBC

The avuncular, urbane and utterly charming manager of Manchester United, Alex Ferguson has backed a plan outlined by Fifa Fuhrer Sepp Blatter which would impose a quota of five foreign players in any clubs starting XI. The idea behind the limit is to ensure that ‘homegrown’ talent can flourish.

The red nosed Rolex twitcher explained

"For the good of the game in England, it would be good to see more home-based players at the top clubs," he said.

"I totally agree [with Blatter], but there would be opposition from clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal."

He added that "It's certainly not wrong that clubs should be seen to have a proportion of home-based players. You want to protect your own, and there is nothing wrong with that and that's why Arsenal will protest the loudest".

"United's critics would say 'It's all right for you, you already have English players in your side'. But I think if you asked a neutral, they would rather see more home-based players."

The pizza delivery boy does at least understand the legal position which was explained by The Premier League who said that under EU law it would not be possible, but Ferguson believes there is a way around the legal system.

"Under the present Treaty of Rome you couldn't make it law - it would have to be an agreement between the clubs," Ferguson noted. He then went on to bleat about the possibility of some of his rivals opposing the idea. He was though confident of final approval.

(One wonders if Fungusmoans interest in the plan has more to do with short term advantage for his club by undermining the squads of several of his closest competitors rather than a deeply held philosophical conviction)

Sepp Blatter also has an interesting take on the situation.

"Workers in Europe can circulate freely but footballers are not workers," he said.

(He must have watched Spurs recently!)

"You cannot consider a footballer like any normal worker because you need 11 to play a match - and they are more artists than workers."

(No ignore my first comment, he couldn’t have done!)

The whole thing is ridiculous!

What most football fans want to see are the best players at the clubs that they support.

The last thing that is needed is an artificial quota system that will allow a lesser player a place in a team because of his nationality ahead of a better foreign one who is excluded on the basis of theirs.

The major clubs have never been averse to taking money from merchandising sales from people from countries from all over the world and yet it is suggested that there may now be restrictions on taking players from the same?

I reckon that the foreign players have played a major part in the making of the English Premier League (or First Division as we still call it in these parts) and this could, if it came to pass, perhaps be the breaking of it.

The argument for the restrictions is of course made with the belief that it will assist the development and protection of National sides. But if anyone’s any good they will always have a place in a decent club side (where ever that club is located) and will earn caps anyway.

It’s all about allowing those with a particular talent to gain the fullest advantage from it and to gain employment by being the best suited to the task. It’s not about who you are, it’s about what you can do that is important. Any employer will always seek to employ the best people and why shouldn’t they?

And this extends far beyond football, when does protectionism (however well intentioned) ever end up doing good? Don’t ask Peter Mandelson though.

Free movement of goods and services in a liberalised economy.

But I guess it must be hard for a former Union Shop Steward from the Clyde Shipyards to understand this.

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