EPL clubs ready to oppose FA's 'homegrown' proposal

LONDON • Premier League clubs will fight against the Football Association's (FA) proposed plan to ensure that at least half of their first-team squads have to be made up of "homegrown" players.

While a number of clubs have indicated that they may agree to a cut in the number of overseas players to secure a global free market for foreign talent after Brexit, the FA's proposal, which will be put to the clubs today, is understood to be "too drastic".

If a deal is not agreed before Brexit, it is likely that all European Union players would have to pass the criteria linked to international caps and wages that non-EU players have to fulfil to secure a work permit.

Former FA chairman Greg Dyke, who first proposed increasing the homegrown quota in 2015, said on Tuesday that the governing body should "stick to its guns" and insist on a minimum of 13 homegrown players.

"The FA should realise that it will have the main power after Brexit and it can tell the Premier League what the rules should be," he said.

"To have 13 homegrown players would mean clubs being obliged to give opportunities to British players."

Supporters of the proposal believe that even losing five overseas players would barely affect most squads.

 
 
 

For example, Watford have 16 overseas players in their 25-man squad but six of them - Heurelho Gomes, Marc Navarro, Stefano Okaka, Ken Sema, Adam Masina and Marvin Zeegelaar - have only three league starts between them this season.

Several club executives contacted by The Times said that they believed that a compromise figure of 10 homegrown players could be achieved in return for the FA removing the criteria.

One club chairman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "Clubs are just not going to agree to go from being allowed 17 overseas players to 12.

"Many clubs will feel the same quality of homegrown players as (compared to the) overseas ones is not available at the moment. We do not want to do anything that will affect the quality of the league and the value of the TV rights. Clubs do not want the standard to be eroded.

"Having said that, it would be attractive for the criteria for overseas players to be made easier, and to apply across the world, so it may be that some kind of compromise can be reached."

Another club chief executive pointed out that the FA's proposal had merits in that it would stop European clubs putting a premium on EU players if non-internationals from Brazil and Argentina were made available for English clubs to sign.

One executive from a "Big Six" club felt that support would depend on each club's reliance on overseas players and the strength of their academy.

"If you have a good academy, then this might be something to support," he said. "But 13 homegrown players will be too many for the clubs to stomach. It would have to be somewhere closer to 10."

Separately, the league on Tuesday unveiled Discovery veteran Susanna Dinnage as its new chief executive officer, the first female to be appointed to the role.

Dinnage, who is currently the global president of Discovery's "Animal Planet" brand, will start the role early next year and replaces outgoing executive chairman Richard Scudamore, who has spent 19 years at the helm.

"We are confident she will be able to take the Premier League to new heights," Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea and the league's Nominations Committee, said in a statement.

BLOOMBERG, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2018, with the headline 'EPL clubs ready to oppose FA's 'homegrown' proposal'. Print Edition | Subscribe