Prem 'failing to invest in youngsters'

BY foxsports • July 9, 2010

The president of Spain's La Liga says English football is suffering as a consequence of Premier League clubs' over-reliance on foreign talent.

The fallout from England's dismal World Cup campaign has led to scrutiny of the national game at its grass roots, with concerns over the limited first-team opportunities afforded English players in the top flight held up as a key issue.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Jose Luis Astiazaran, head of Spain's Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional, was critical of the English model, which has led to around 40% English representation in the Premier League, a figure almost half that experienced in Spain's top league.

Spain, the reigning European champions, will contest Sunday's World Cup final against Holland, and Astiazaran believes his country is reaping the rewards of a system that encourages the development of home-grown talent.

"In La Liga there are 77.1% Spanish players, 16.7% European and 6.7% non-European," Astiazaran told the Guardian.

"Our strategy is to work very hard with young home-grown players and to try to have a mix between them and experienced players.

"Why is it not a high number of foreign players in La Liga? Because we invest more and more in young Spanish players than in young foreign players.

"England has many times taken young players from outside who are 14, 16 years old. These kind of players are not English. This is one of the most important differences between Spain and England. We invest in young Spanish players.

"In Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United there are a lot of young Spanish, French and Italian players - maybe this is why at the moment you are not creating young English players."

Meanwhile, the former boss of youth development at the Premier League claims an overhaul of the system is needed if England are to challenge on the world stage.

Huw Jennings is critical of the current youth system, which is presided over by three bodies - the Premier League, the Football League and the Football Association.

He has called for an independent, single entity to assume responsibility for player development.

"In football regulation, three is a crowd," Jennings, who is now academy director at Fulham, told the Daily Telegraph.

"We need to take youth development away from the three organisations. Of course the FA and the Premier League should be represented but if you appoint separate governance you have a better chance of making progress.

"At the moment we haven't got the concerted campaign and joined up thinking to make the radical change that is needed.

"Let's get rid of the difficulties, differences and politics and have one single body for the governance of youth development with the power to license and reward."


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