How Does the Homegrown Player Rule Work in the Premier League?

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European football has become much more globalized in recent decades, with players being exchanged across the globe for large sums of money. England is no different, with top players like Son Heung-min from Korea, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Gabon, and Sergio Agüero from Argentina starring during Premier League fixtures.

Clubs have profited massively off the globalization of the game with lucrative television contracts, increased merchandise sales, and globetrotting preseason tours. But some national teams and national football associations have felt hard-done-by the globalization of the game.

Homegrown player rules have been enacted in various countries in an attempt to increase domestic player development and bolster their national team.

In 2015, the Football Association implemented new rules for the Premier League, and below is an explanation of how they work, the implications of the rules, and how they may change in the future.

Homegrown Talent

While the Premier League has undoubtedly become the biggest football league worldwide, the English national team was struggling back in 2015.

The FA stepped in with a plan to increase the number of young English talents playing in Premier League first teams. Hence, the homegrown player rule was born.

Since 2015, every Premier League team has to submit a squad of 25 players that are eligible to play in league games with a maximum of 17 non home-grown players. The other eight spots in the squad are filled with players who have played at English clubs for three years prior to their 21st birthday, aka a homegrown player.

Despite the name, homegrown players do not necessarily have to be born in the UK or British. Any youngster who plays at an English club for three year prior to their 21st birthday is considered a homegrown player.

Some notable homegrown players with nationalities outside the UK include Paul Pogba and Héctor Bellerín.

Impact

While the rule has not been in place for too long, there’s been a notable increase in young English talent, however many have chosen to move abroad for better chances. Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham show that the homegrown rule hasn’t necessarily kept England’s best and brightest close to home.

The rule also massively increased the demand for first-team quality English players who can play at the Champions League level, and since the rule is relatively new, the supply has failed to keep up. Think of Danny Drinkwater’s £35 million move to Chelsea in 2017 only to sit on the bench for most of his time at the London club.

Homegrown talent is priced at a premium, and clubs vying for the Champions League spots are more likely to buy top English talent only to have them deployed as an emergency backup.

Future

The near future of the homegrown rule is somewhat up in the air, considering the fallout of Brexit for British clubs looking to buy European talent.

A new points-based system will make it harder for English clubs to purchase young talent from Europe and other foreign players. With these rules in place, young stars like Pogba might not have found their way to England at a young age.

This may have a bigger impact on England’s youth development than the homegrown player rule. Young English talent may receive more first-team chances as it becomes more difficult for top clubs to bring in foreign talent.

Of course, it could go the opposite way and see the stature of the league decline and English players playing against worse competition domestically.

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