The struggle facing English players in professional football

Dean Austin is concerned about the future of young English footballers

Dean Austin is concerned about the future of young English footballers

First published in Sport by

This summer we find ourselves at the height of activity for transfers in the Premier League, however more and more young English players are struggling to find professional clubs in the lower leagues. Why is this?

I personally believe there are a few reasons for this and it is all a knock-on effect from the Premier League, who now really run the English game, they have far more power than the FA.

Not to be completely critical and to give some credit as they have created the most exciting product in world football, but to what cost to England's football team and the development and opportunity of young English players.

This year the Premier League transfer kitty spent so far is over £350m and over 60 per cent of the transfers conducted so far have been foreign imports, even if moving from Premier League club to Premier League club.

Is this good for the English game? The Premier League teams don't really care about this and I don't blame them when they're receiving over £100m a year to stay in the Premier League, they won't care where the players come from.

I would be interested to know how many young English players are out of work this year, dropping out of our game into non-league.

I spoke to an agent last week who I have known a long time, he told me that he has two young players that have been released from a Championship club who have both been out on loan last season and done well. Now they cannot even get trials at League 1 or League 2 clubs.

Some of this partly I think is because of the knock-on effect of the Premier League and players filtering down through the leagues, clubs are committed to contracts, squads and budgets are full so there is nowhere for these young English players to go. This is not been helped by the new fair play rules.

FIFA Fair Play was brought in to stop clubs overspending beyond their means. Where in principal this is not a bad idea but if I'm a football club owner and I've amassed a fortune of say £150-£200m shouldn't I be able to spend it on what I want? It's only a question.

Couldn't it just be simplified by making clubs pay their bills on time?

For example, all clubs should pay their Inland Revenue and NI bills monthly, if they miss a payment they incur a fine, if they miss a second month they incur a bigger fine and the third month they enter administration.

This would act as a deterrent to clubs and stop them overspending but if a club has a sugar daddy who is wanting to spend should he be able to do so of his own freewill. I am not talking director loans here that the club have to pay back, once it's spent it's gone.

My fear is that if the powers that be that run our national game, The FA and The Premier League, do not put some rules and legislations in place our pool of young players given opportunities to play in the Premier League is going to get smaller and smaller.

I hear foreign managers say why don’t English players go abroad and play, the reason I think mainly is that if you’re not at one of the top European clubs its more financially rewarding to stay here. But I do agree that playing in a different country, learning a language could be only but beneficial, I wish I had taken the opportunity to do so when I had the chance in 1997 when I had run my Spurs contract down.

As a football nation we can’t have it all ways, expect to have a top international team where our top division where over 60 per cent of the players in it are foreign imports and have the best league.

Yes we do have the most exciting product in the world but I will be very interested to see our games' evolution in the coming years. I really fear for our youngsters of today in professional football and I only see it getting worse.

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