Two Academy Subs Would Be a Mistake

According to an article on ESPNsoccernet, the Premier League will explore the possibility of implementing a rule that would require its 20 member teams to include at least two academy graduates from that particular club in the seven available substitutes on gameday.

This was one of the options put forward this summer in addition to the 7-man bench, which is up from its previous five this season. Obviously it wasn’t introduced; the Premiership likely wanted to take things step by step and not make radical changes right away. Like FIFA and UEFA, though, the Premiership is in favor of increasing the amount of home-grown players on each team.

To get this proposal passed, it would take the approval of 2/3 of the top flight’s 20 clubs (14, for all you math majors out there).

I’m completely against this idea and most others like it. There should be no requirement for a club to field a certain number of players from whatever country said club is based in. Teams should field the best side they can, regardless of players’ nationalities. If you’re an English club, who cares how many players from Ghana or Japan or the US or France or Sweden or wherever you have. Your primary goal is to win games and be successful. If you believe you can do that without one English player, then that’s fine. Why should there be a rule forcing teams to include or play players they don’t want to use?

My good friend, Kartik Krishnaiyer, is in favor of MLS requiring its teams to have a certain number of Americans on their rosters and in gameday lineups, and in Toronto FC’s case, is in favor of them having a certain number of Canadians. That’s silly. MLS is a league that is desperate for attention in this country’s crowded sporting landscape. If the best a team can get is Americans, fine, but if a team can get better players from outside the US that can make an impact, they should make their best efforts to get them.

I don’t mean to be anti-nationalist or nationalist here at all; I’m saying go after the best players you can get, no matter where they’re from. If you feel that signing Americans makes better business sense because your fans can identify with them more and may buy more jerseys or merchandise, then that’s fine too. Sign those Americans. But there shouldn’t be a rule requiring teams to do so.

Let’s face it — the Premiership is a global league now. The only thing traditionally English about it anymore are the cities and stadiums where teams play, and the core group of fans for each club. That’s it. The world’s top talent isn’t coming from England anymore; the vast majority of the Premiership’s best players are foreign, with Steven Gerrard and a few others the primary notable exceptions. Forcing clubs to play a certain number of English players would just water down the league, because the fact of the matter is English players, by and large, aren’t good enough at this point in time. We’re seeing it with probably the top 10 or 12 teams in the league: starting lineups have more foreign-based players than English and British players, and it’s not even close. Why? Because there’s more talent to choose from outside of that small island’s borders.

It’s not even necessarily about that either, though. I don’t care where players come from. If they’re good enough to play for me, they’re going to play. Not playing them because of where they’re from or playing others because of where they’re from is wrong. I’d have no problem playing a midfielder from Burkina Faso over a midfielder from England if I was a Premiership manager if the former was a better player or fit what I was trying to do more. That’s what it should come down to, not filling out rosters and playing players to satisfy a stupid rule.

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  1. Auslander25 September 17, 2008
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