Arsene Wenger says the FA’s plans to introduce new player quotas stand to damage the quality of the Premier League.
Claiming artificial limits on players is not the answer the Frenchman outlined the new rules could see mediocrity thrive at the expense of the best talent.
Under the new proposals the FA want:
- Players to have been registered with a club from the age of 15 – down from 18 – to qualify as ‘home-grown’.
- The minimum number of home-grown players in a club’s first-team squad of 25 to increase from eight to 12, phased over four years from 2016.
- At least two home-grown players to be ‘club-trained’ players – defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their club from the age of 15.
- Only the best non-EU foreign players to be granted permission to play in England.
Reflecting on the plans, Wenger told beIN Sport that the FA would be far better ploughing money into improving coaching standards across the country.
“I believe that we are in the world of competition. Competition means who of you or me is the best one. We have to accept that.
“That means as well that the rules of the game must be structured to favour the best. Or we are not in a competition anymore.
“So we can say one of two things – we protect the mediocre or we produce the best players.
“I personally would support hugely to pay super people who think about how we can produce players from five years old to 20 years old to be as good as they can be rather than protect them through wrong mediocre rules.
“I give you two examples. In Yugoslavia in the past they decided you had to play three players on the team sheet who were under 21. What happened? They became professional subs. It happened in France, too.
“Then they decided you had to play three players under-21 from the start. You know what happened? They subbed all three after five minutes.
“If we want to sell the Premier League for a huge amount of money then we need to say: ‘buy this, this is the best in the world.’ You cannot go against the quality and what is at the heart of our job which is competition.
“The best must be the best. That’s why I will fight against it. I have very little power but I don’t think the idea is right.”
Wenger’s has retained a steadfast belief in the importance of meritocracy in football throughout his career, memorably reflecting in 2008, “I believe that the pride in sport is that if you have the quality you play. If it was my son and he wasn’t good enough, he could never play at Arsenal.
“You have the example of Barack Obama in the United States – that is one of the countries where, if you have the quality, you will make it. When the system brings people to the top just because they have the quality, I think that is right. And in sport that is the case.”