Frank Malley: Premier League player cap a potential bonus for England

At last, it appears, a dash of common sense from the Premier League.

From next season each club must register a squad of just 25 players.

A cap. A quota. Call it what you like, it is long overdue.

Not least because it means the back of programme notes will no longer take most of the first half to digest.

Yet mostly because with it comes the rider that no more than 17 of that squad can be 21 or older without three years of continuous development in the English game.

On the surface a boost for home grown players. A potential bonus in years to come for the England football team. A way of kick-starting a new wave of talent from the grass roots of the English game.

But also a way of getting squads down to manageable proportions and ending the iniquity where a club such as Liverpool can have 55 players published as eligible for its first team squad this current season while others such as Bolton have 28.

It is not, however, going to see players culled left, right and centre.

In its wisdom the Premier League will also allow clubs to supplement their squad with a B-list, comprising as many players as they want who were under the age of 21 at the start of the previous January.

Again, any promotion of young talent is to be applauded. Likewise, any cull in the glut of cheap foreign imports.

So why is there a feeling that the new rules, apart from pruning the apparent size of squads, will have little impact? Why should they be viewed with a degree of scepticism?

It is mainly because of the fear that clubs, especially the big ones, will be tempted to stockpile the best young foreign players, nurturing them on their B-list and training them in England rather than waiting until they are 21.

At a time when Chelsea are fighting a transfer ban imposed by FIFA for the illegal recruitment of French teenager Gael Kakuta from Lens it could make the hoarding of young foreign talent even more prevalent.

In his own colourful manner Leeds chairman Ken Bates graphically exposed the fears of the smaller English clubs earlier this month.

"The big clubs are stripping the small clubs of their youngsters. They are like Japanese fishing trawlers, just sweeping up everything in their nets," he said.

"Too many of these kids who are taken by the big clubs just disappear. They are destroying their careers...Right now some of these boys are just being traded like horsemeat."

The Premier League plan is likely to encourage more hoarding, not less.

How much better if the Premier League had fixed a quota on how many kids a club could sign.

How much better if it had addressed the issue of 'tapping up' young talent and the vexed issue of compensation for the clubs who had nurtured those youngsters.

As usual Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore dressed up the new initiative.

"It encourages the promotion of young players," he said.

It's true, the new rules will force a few clubs to eject some players from their first team squads who rarely feature and bring down the average age. And give the appearance of a more level playing field.

But a window of opportunity for footballing youth and England? I think not. More like window dressing.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory