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EPL Chief: “It is nonsense” to blame Premier League for England’s demise

Jul 3, 2013, 8:11 AM EDT

NBC Premier League AP

Richard Scudamore finally hit the roof when asked about something that repeatedly pops up during his press conferences.

The English Premier League’s riches has resulted in players brought in from across the globe, but many believe that has harmed the English national teams chances.

But EPL Chief Executive Scudamore refuted such claims, defending the league against recent claims from the English national team that not enough young English talent is given the chance to play regularly in the EPL.

“There were 210 players qualified to play for England, playing in the Premier League last year,” said Scudamore. “And we ought to be able to find 11 to take the field to do well. Those players are playing week in, week out against the world’s best talent.”

Scudamore has a point.

He has held his position as Chief Exec. of the EPL since 1999 and in that time the Premier League has grown exponentially. However the English national team has diminished as a world power and with the percentages of foreigners playing in England on the rise, Scudamore spoke further about how the EPL aims to bring through more young English talent.

Our responsibility is to make sure the youth development systems in this country are as good as they can be. That huge investment, £320m, in the elite performance plan is starting to see results. We’re starting to see more English-qualified people coming through the academies, we’re starting to see more take part in first teams. All we can do is be responsible for some of the input. Clearly, our responsibility ends once those players go off and are selected.

The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has been banded around wholeheartedly in recent years as the answer to all of the English national teams problems. But after England’s U-21 side lost every game at the European Championships and the U-20 side didn’t win a group game at the World Cup, criticism has been rife from ex-players and managers who believe the EPL’s module is hindering the national team.

But how do you really solve this conundrum? There is simply no easy solution.

English Under-21s made up 2.28 percent of the total minutes played by EPL players during the 2012-13 season. In the German Bundesliga, that figure was 6.22 percent. So how can more young Englishmen get minutes in the EPL?

(MORE: The FA is in a tizzy over the Premier League schedule)

Except from putting huge limitations on the number of foreign players each team can play — say five in the starting lineup max, or no more than seven in the match day squad of 18 — there is no easy fix. And we all know that EPL chiefs will not restrict their clubs to how many foreign stars they can buy and play.

Simply put, the EPL has outgrown the English national team. Back when it was founded in 1992, even the greatest optimist wouldn’t have predicted the global hotbed England’s top-flight has now become as soccer fans across the world regard it as the best of the best. That is in terms of commercial success, on field play, venues and fan experience, really whatever you want to measure it by.

The English Premier League does have a huge part to play in the English national teams success. But it seems as if the point of no return has been crossed. The tipping point has been reached, now English youngsters will find it harder than ever to grace England’s top-flight with their presence.

  1. dfstell - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I think it’s silly…..I mean, England is teaming with places for a young player to play. Of course it is hard for a young player to break into United, but there are tons of other places for young players to cut their teeth…..either with a lesser EPL club or in one of the lower divisions.

  2. talgrath - Jul 3, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    If young English players were as good as England thinks they should be, they wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the EPL is doing enough for English soccer because the EPL would be nothing but people from England and leagues around the world would be clambering to acquire English players. The EPL is one of the top leagues in the world, so it attracts top talent from all over the place; the players playing in the EPL are better players for their countries, should they be selected, when on national team duty. The idea that a country’s league should be just for that country is foolish, steel sharpens steel, playing the best will help these players gain additional insight and skills; what has happened is that the world, overall, has gotten better at playing soccer in the last few decades, leading to a “decline” in British soccer.

  3. mazblast - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Is there anything stopping young English players from leaving England to ply their trade in the Bundesliga, Serie A, etc.? It just seems to me that if players from other countries are coming to England to play, there are openings in their home countries.

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