With the utter collapse of the English national team in South Africa this summer, the Premier League has changed its rules in regards to roster size and the number of ‘home-grown’ players required at each of the top twenty clubs in England. The new roster limits take the number of players available in the first team to just 25. Clubs like Manchester City have as many as 32 players currently under contract, and will have to either shed players via sales or choose players to withdraw from the list until the next transfer window in January.
The bigger change is the requirement that each club’s roster of 25 include eight ‘home-grown’ players. That designation is defined as a player who has spent at least three seasons, prior to the season in which he turns 21, playing in England in an academy, reserve side or first team. Such a designation does not require that the ‘home-grown’ players actually be English, as Cesc Fàbregas would qualify, having moved to Arsenal at age 16.
Youngers players included in the first team, and particularly those of English descent or those who have been playing in the English system, is supposed to give an advantage to the English national side come the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. But the changes will mean that competent foreign players could be bumped from their respective first team rosters for an unproven but now required English teenager. Managers like Harry Redknapp are furious that players who would benefit more from playing with the reserves or even in the academies would be required inclusions in top-flight first teams.
Ultimately this move suggests a realization on the part of those involved at the highest levels of English football that they can no longer rely on tired, old stars who have won nothing on the international level. Yet major changes at the club level will disrupt and alter the conditions under which players develop and grow up in the years between World Cups. Several years will likely pass before there is an answer to the question of the effect of this change on the national team in England. There should be immediate results on the club level.