Debate: Is The FA’s Homegrown Rule Damaging The National Team?

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As Manchester City close in on the signing of Fabian Delph – I pose the question, is the homegrown quota rule actually damaging the national squad?

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Just as Delph was establishing himself as a regular in the England squad, Manchester City go and sign him. Without being disrespectful, you have to think that if the homegrown rule was not in place – Delph would stay at Aston Villa, he committed his future in January of this year.

It’s not realistic for Delph to be a regular at a club contending at the heights Manchester City do – so is this quota actually having adverse effects? Many immediately point to the likes of Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair as living examples of the negative results of the implementation of the rule.

At 25, Delph is entering the so called ‘prime’ years of his career and for England to make the most of these years, they need the player to be playing regularly. Roy Hodgson has spoken on several occasions about the importance of playing regularly for your club if you are to be selected for the national team.

With Euro 2016 next summer, Delph has put his position in that squad in jeopardy by moving to City. Whilst the lure of Champions League football would of course been a lure and key factor in Delph’s decision to move – how much he’ll actually play in that competition must be questioned.

He could flourish from the move to City and prove me wrong, but there’s no doubt that he will face an uphill struggle to break into Manuel Pellegrini’s first eleven. WhoScored ratings say Delph averaged a performance score of 7.08 last season, that’s better than James Milner (7.02), Frank Lampard (6.56) and Fernando (6.89). With Milner and Lampard leaving the club, those stats suggest he could actually improve City’s options. With Yaya Toure’s best days seemingly behind him, Delph could get chances alongside Fernandinho at the heart of their midfield.

Would England be better off if the rule was scrapped?

Not necessarily, but you have to question what is more useful to England – a Delph who might only play a handful of times, dropping in and out of match fitness – or a Delph who is the heartbeat of Aston Villa and one of the first names on the team sheet?

The only way they could effectively enforce the rule across the board would be to demand that clubs start a certain numbers of homegrown players and even then it would be difficult.

Another debate is whether this rule is actually harming the quality of the Premier League. Manchester City were reportedly targeting Paul Pogba to strengthen their midfield and have instead brought in Delph. Another example: Raheem Sterling is being marketed for £50million. That valuation is absurd – the quality of foreign player City could bring in for that amount would be significantly higher. But due to the homegrown pressures they look likely to pay the asking price. Liverpool have taken advantage of City’s need to fulfil the quota.