Mills: Plans won’t block stars

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Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Danny Mills insists plans to limit the number of foreign players in English football are designed to encourage the development of home grown talent, not prevent the world’s best players from plying their trade in the Barclays Premier League.

The Football Association’s stricter work permit rules, approved by the Home Office on Friday, will come into force from May 1 ahead of next season and intend to reduce the number of non-EU players in the Premier League, who are seen as blocking English talent.

FA chairman Greg Dyke also wants to persuade the Premier League to drop the number of non-home grown players allowed in a 25-man squad from 17 to 13 and to adjust the definition of ‘home grown’ so that players only qualify if they are registered for three years prior to turning 18, rather than 21.

The Premier League is understood to have serious reservations about both changes to the home grown players rule but Mills, a member of the FA commission created in 2013 to improve the fortunes of the national team, insists the rule changes will not stop the world’s best footballers from playing in England’s top flight.

“We don’t want to stop elite players coming over – the likes of (Dennis) Bergkamp, (Gianfranco) Zola, (Thierry) Henry,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “We want as many top players in the Premier League as possible.

“What we don’t want is those non-EU players who filter down to the Championship and even League Two. No disrespect but they are not the elite and they are stifling home grown talent.

“The emphasis is on the clubs to produce better home grown players, to coach them better. It is too easy at the moment to dip into the foreign market and pick up a cheap foreign import.”

Dyke used Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s rise to prominence this season – he is currently the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 19 goals – as an example of the reward that can be enjoyed by clubs which choose to nurture British talent.

“We will go round (the clubs) and try to convince them. We will ask: ‘Are you sure you haven’t got a Harry Kane playing in your youth side?’,” Dyke said.

“It must help negotiations mustn’t it? Suddenly an English kid who was out on loan at four different places, who was touch and go to get a game in the first team, is suddenly the top scorer in English football.

“It’s great news. How many more Harry Kanes are there out there, who just can’t get a game?”

The FA commission was launched in 2013 to help English youngsters succeed at the highest level and achieve Dyke’s ambitious target of winning the 2022 World Cup.

A clock counting down to the final in Qatar has since been installed at St George’s Park but the chance of England progressing that far remains small with Englishmen like Kane forming only 35 per cent of those playing in the top flight.

Dyke wants that figure to rise to “around 40 per cent” in the next five years.

The new work permit rules, which apply across the whole Football League, will see prospective non-EU players given points for various criteria including the agreed transfer fee and wages, international caps, and the level of league and club they are joining from.

The changes are aimed at ending clubs’ reliance on a lenient appeals system that has granted approval to 79 per cent of its applicants, and ensuring only the most talented non-EU players ply their trade in this country.

The FA calculates that 33 per cent of players who gained entry under the old rules would have been turned down under the new system.

Under the current rules, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Asmir Begovic all count as home-grown players in the Premier League despite earning more than 150 caps between them for Spain, France and Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively.

“The Premier League has already embraced the idea of Home Grown Player requirements, but the current rules are not having the desired impact,” Dyke said.

“These proposed changes will encourage clubs to play the genuine home-grown talent that is being developed through their and other academies.”

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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