Richard Scudamore launches more Scuds
The Premier League has brought in protectionism ostensibly in the name of encouraging homegrown talent but what it actually accomplishes is legalize the sort of predatory Gael Kakuta and Paul Pogba type of transfers.
Richard Scudamore in one fell swoop has made the UEFA head honchos happy and preserved the EPL’s global brand alive. He already knows the sort of damage that can be done by UEFA’s transfer ban on Chelsea and he needs to placate that anger. Its his fig leaf.
From next year expect a minimum allocation of eight homegrown players to each club’s 25 man roster. But as already pointed out the definition of “homegrown” is anything but that. It means you can bring foreign teen players, train them for three years at the club till the age of 21, and by that “naturalization” grant them homegrown status. So a Cesc Fabregas, Kiki Macheda or a Gai Assulin will compete with the likes of a Daniel Sturridge or a Wayne Rooney. In fact none of the eight homegrown players need be English.
This quota system legalizes the sort of Gael Kakuta under the radar deal. Guess which clubs benefit from them the most. The big four. Their scouts will line up outside La Masia, Lens, Le Havre, ASEC Mimosa, Beveren and sign up promising youngsters enticing them with visions of first squad duty and bags of swag.
Its funny I should say this being a bit of a lefty when it comes to my politics but the EPL should be left alone. It is the most co-opted global sports brand. People in Ghana watch Chelsea because there is a Michael Essien. Man Utd occupies a special place in the heart of South Koreans because of Park Ji Sung. India has no players but it understands the EPL as a potent connection with the rest of the world.
The need for homegrown talent as an ideal is understandable but there are clubs that already do that with Arsenal, Man Utd, West Ham, Middlesbrough, and City already having well regarded programs. And yes, the English team is doing rather well don”t you think? Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge, Jonny Evans, there is a generation out there keeping English football in good hands for years to come. And as Fabio Capello has ably demonstrated so far, a good coach can get all that talent to work well for you.
Each league has found its way through with the Liga building their ranks with homegrown talent from their canteras, the Serie with players who prefer their insularity and nationalism, and the Bundesliga with their carefully calibrated purchasing. The EPL has never been blessed overtly by any of these attributes, so good old fashioned predation is the order.
What I do think necessary is that if the EPL does spirit these players away there is a prospective compensation package akin to royalties that could be paid out. Institutions like La Masia may not mind being divested of their talented youngsters as long as they are well compensated. If their graduates go on to first squad duty and make regular appearances then pay them a match fee and a percentage of their transfer should they move on. It is a point of pride for these academies that their talent is so sought after but giving a fair share for their hard work in developing that talent is far more important.
So, in the end, I think the EPL introducing such “homegrown talent” is just another glossy brochure but it buys them goodwill from the UEFA and it keeps their status as the most watched league intact and their coffers full.