England lacking talent, say bosses

LONDON: The English game is being hurt by a lack of over-priced talent and a flood of cheaper foreigners, according to Blackburn chairman John Williams.

On the first weekend of the Premier League season, only 37% of players that started Premier League matches were English. That was 81 players, a drop from 184 15 years ago.

And Williams sees that as bad for the English game. “There is a shortage of English talent and you have to pay premium prices for those out there,” said Williams.

“I’m afraid that we have to shop where the market is right, where the players are right and where the price is right. We want to support the England national team but the price of English players can be very off-putting.”

West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson, however, insists it is understandable that domestic talent costs more – but claims it still makes sense to buy British.

“You buy players who may have had a lot of success in the Dutch League or French League for example but doesn’t mean they are going to be successful in the Premier League. There is a bit of a gamble to take,” he said.

“You have to pay a little bit more for players who have a proven track record in the Premier League and that’s fully understandable – and that goes whether you are talking about foreign players who have proved themselves in the Premier League or English players.”

Magnusson does think it is important for clubs to have a strong base of domestic talent, however.

He added: “Sir Trevor (Brooking) can have no problem with West Ham because we want to have a strong England team and we believe it is important to support that and have English players at the club.”

Meanwhile, Williams predicts wages will soar this year to reflect the record spending on transfers.

Sports consultants Deloitte believe there will not be such a dramatic rise in players’ salaries compared to transfer fees, but Williams disagrees.

Deloitte’s report shows transfer spending by English clubs this summer has exceeded £500mil, smashing the previous summer’s £300mil.

Williams added: “I have read the predictions that wages will not rise dramatically but my feeling is that wages will grow very considerably this year.

“The market is buoyant because of the TV money, there is an ability to pay and a willingness to invest.” – AFP
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