Sunday, 3 February 2008

Own Goal?

I wasn’t inclined to post tonight but on stumbling across a story…..well you know how it goes.

According to a variety of sources 23 MP’s have signed an Early Day Motion complaining about the number of foreign players in the English Football leagues.

Led by Lib Dem Bob Russell, 4 other Lib Dems, 3 DUP, 1 Tory (shame on you Hugo Swire!) and (naturally) 14 Labour members want the government and the football authorities to discourage clubs from recruiting so many overseas players.

The MPs believe the rise in the number of foreign players is not in the long-term interests of football in England and is harming the prospects of the national team.
It’s pretty obvious that the motion won’t be carried.

But in my view –

A) I would suggest that it’s the foreign players that have been a pivotal part in the success of English Football over the last ten or so years. Bergkamp, Henry, Cantona, Ginola, Poyet, Zola etc.

B) If an English player is good enough he will make it into a decent club side or the national team. How is fielding an arbitrary number of home grown players (as was suggested by Labour MP Alan Simpson) going to help? It could actually further inflate prices for English players (which are pretty high anyway and part of the reason for so many foreign players being here) and possibly lower the ‘average’ talent in a top club side. Is this footballing stagflation?

C) Premier League Clubs along with many others throughout the league structure already have academy structures in place which nurture and bring on many talented English players. If the ability is there it will shine.

D) The national side will always have the pick of the best players available from the country but are they ever going to be really good enough? Perhaps we should entertain the possibility that just because we invented the game it doesn’t give an automatic right to be a footballing super power. It’s the Spurs thing. Oh we won the league 40 years ago so we must be a big club and require, demand and deserve success. Erh no, it doesn’t work like that.

E) It’s discriminatory. Shouldn’t any player from any part of the world be able play at the highest level in any nation as his ability allows and command the wages appropriate for his services. Isn’t that one of the major factors in free markets?

I know it must be thought a good move to be seen to be protecting the ‘peoples game’. But I would suggest that fewer people would be interested in watching a club game that had been handicapped by some bizarre protectionist measures which in themselves wouldn’t create a glut of English talent that may not be there in the first place.

The motion in full reads-

‘ That this House registers with concern the large increase in the number of professional footballers from overseas countries now playing in England, notably in the Premiership but also in the Football League; observes that whereas in 1992, the first season of the Premiership, there were just 11 foreign players, the number of overseas players now registered to play in the Premiership outnumbers those from the United Kingdom, with 331 signed from 66 different countries, representing more than 60 per cent. of those on the books of the 20 clubs; believes that this huge increase in players from overseas is to the detriment of the long-term interests of professional football in England and the future prospects of the national team in international competitions; and calls on the Government, working in partnership with the football authorities, to discourage football clubs from recruiting so many overseas players and instead to promote the development of football talent within the UK.’


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

All top teams have foreign legions.

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