The Premier League is the greatest league in the world. We hear it all the time and considering the calibre of the players, money spent by the teams and the unpredictability of the matches, it is easy to agree. However, this reputation could well be damaged or even destroyed, following Greg Dyke's new target set regarding English players.
On average, 66 English players currently start for Premier League sides, but the FA chairman wants that number to increase to 90 players by 2022. It's no secret that the English national team have struggled for years now and the standard of players is simply no where near the likes of Germany, Spain and Brazil. Dyke believes that an increase in English Premier League players will significantly boost the national side's chances of success.
It is true that the Premier League is seriously lacking in English talent, particularly when it comes to the top sides. In fact, if only goals from Englishmen counted, the champions Manchester City would have been relegated, finishing 18th. Teams who are known for their fantastic academies, such as Southampton and West Ham, however, would have finished 2nd and 5th respectively.
The proposed rules and targets outlined by Dyke include the introduction of Premier League B teams that would enter the Football League, but not be allowed to move higher than League One. He would also encourage links between top flight and Football League clubs where they could loan up to eight players between them, keeping English talent within touching distance of Premier League football, rather than them leaving to the lower leagues for good. In addition to this, he wants tighter work-permit restrictions for non-EU players so only "truly exceptional players of the highest calibre" get work permits and only two non-EU players can play for each side. The means Manchester City would have to say goodbye to all but two of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero, Eden Dzeko, Pablo Zabaleta and many more.
To those teams who struggle to compete with the rich clubs like City and Chelsea, this will be fantastic news as it will give them a chance to compete and use their academy talent without being turned over by the world's greatest players. However, that is a problem in itself - what about the world's greatest players?
At the moment, the Premier League is where every footballer dreams of playing, but with stricter rules and regulations in place for foreign players, it may become impossible for them to do so. Teams would lose a great deal of sponsorship and subsequently, money. Players will instead choose to join mega-rich clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, leaving the Premier League to become a shadow of what it is at the moment. However, if we look at the Bundesliga, a league made up predominantly of German players, it is clear that the idea can work, but the Bundesliga is not the most desirable league in the world to play in, invest in or watch. The Premier League is.
Greg Dyke's ideas would be fantastic for English football, as the hard work put into developing young, home grown players by some clubs would finally be recognised. West Ham, for example, fielded a starting XI in which nine players were from Britain for a large number of their games. Southampton have been rewarded for their focus on English talent and three of their stars will be on the plan to Brazil this summer. There is no denying that when it comes to the national side and teams who don't have the money to spend on the world's best players, Greg Dyke's targets are ideal.
The problem, however, is what of the Premier League in the long run? Will there be an exodus of international players due to the new rules and subsequent lack of success on the European stage? Or will academies develop better Englishmen, capable of becoming the world's best? Whatever the outcome, you can be sure that the Premier League is in for a shock if these rules come into play.
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