Homegrown players will get a better shot at EPL

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Homegrown players will get a better shot at EPL

LONDON - The number of foreign players in English Premier League squads is set to be reduced under new rules designed to keep the development of homegrown youngsters from being stifled by imports.

The English Football Association (FA) announced Monday that the non-European players will find it harder to gain British work permits starting in May when more stringent eligibility requirements will come into force. The FA is also trying to gain Premier League approval for new limits on foreign players in squads.

“We believe too many talented English kids are currently not getting through the system and being lost,’’ FA Chairman Greg Dyke said.

The new rules would have prevented Arsenal from signing Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas as a 16-year-old and Stoke from bringing in American duo Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea.

Dyke is acting now before clubs experience a cash bonanza from the new Premier League television deals from the 2016-17 season, with domestic rights alone soaring 70 percent to around $8 billion over three years.

“We are concerned that there is a downside - all of the historical evidence shows that every time the television income goes up, so do the number of foreign players playing in our game,’’ Dyke said. “The unparalleled success of the Premier League, and the pressure this has put on managers, means that time after time clubs turn to experienced overseas players rather than giving home-grown youth a chance.’’

The FA has been working on the new rules since 2013, but their necessity was highlighted by England’s group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup. Dyke believes Harry Kane’s sudden rise - from fringe player to Tottenham’s key asset - helped him secure the work permit changes.

“It must have done mustn’t it, suddenly an English kid who was out on loan at four different places who was touch and go to get a game in the first team is suddenly the top scorer in English football,’’ Dyke said.

Dyke wants Premier League approval for the number of non-homegrown players in squads to be cut from 17 to 13 by 2020.

“We will go round and try to convince them,’’ Dyke said. “We will ask: Are you sure you haven’t got a Harry Kane playing in your youth side?’’

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