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SWINDON TOWN: Town boss calls for overseas player quota
EITHER the Premier League introduces a foreign player quota within the English game or the national team will never challenge at a major tournament again.
Those are the forthright views of Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper following the new Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s speech on Wednesday, which highlighted the fragile state of the game in this country.
Dyke, a former director general of the BBC, Manchester United fan and the current non-executive chairman of Brentford, expressed his concern at the decline in homegrown players being brought through the ranks in the top flight and the potential knock-on damage that could have on the Three Lions internationally.
Cooper, whose son Charlie - part of Birmingham’s academy - is one of the young Englishmen trying to break past the wall of foreign imports in the Premier League and Championship, holds the same views.
Solutions, he admits, are hard to come by in a world driven by the demand of the consumer and led by Arab sheikhs, Russian oligarchs and American tycoons, but for the sake of the English game he is desperate for a cap to be slapped on the number of foreigners in the country’s top leagues.
“It’s got to start with the Premier League where you can only have a certain contingent of foreign players,” he told the Advertiser.
“You see it in foreign countries - you can only have three or four or a certain number in their squad, and we have teamsheets in the Premier League that are full of foreign players.
“Until that stops I can’t ever see England competing at a major tournament.”
Cooper is frustrated by the steadily decreasing number of chances young homegrown talent get to progress through a top English club.
Now only 32 per cent of starters in the Premier League are homegrown, down from 69 per cent 20 years ago, and clubs seem happier to splurge on unpronounceable and exotic names with dubious backgrounds rather than take a risk on a kid from just down the road.
The Swindon boss may have benefited from that process this season in the shape of Alex Pritchard, Nathan Byrne, Jack Barthram, Ryan Mason and Alex Smith - all allowed out on loan or released by big clubs - but he would still rather see youth given an opportunity.
“Otherwise we’re never going to see our boys get through and the talent is there,” he said. “I’ve seen it from young ages and obviously with my own son, the talent is there.
“They’ve got to be nurtured and given the opportunity - otherwise in 10 years time we won’t be any further forward.
“The English boys at Premiership clubs find themselves having to go out on loan and playing League One and League Two football to get that experience.
“If there weren’t as many foreign players perhaps they’d get their chance in the first team.
“It’s all driven by money. I’ve got to be careful what I say but it’s all driven by money.
“I don’t think you can (deal with it), unless there are drastic changes. Money talks.”
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