New guidelines could strangle the life out of the north London club.
Arsène Wenger has warned that Arsenal’s youth development system will collapse if Uefa’s plans to ban the international transfer of players aged under 18 are put into practice.
The Carling Cup adventures of Arsenal’s youngsters have become a feature of recent seasons, with a crowd of 56,592 turning up at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday to watch an inexperienced team beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the third round, but their manager fears that such uplifting evenings could be a thing of the past.
Of the 18-man squad selected to play West Brom this week, six would be ineligible under Uefa’s proposals, while Cesc Fàbregas, Johan Djourou, Nicklas Bendtner and Vito Mannone, the first-team players, would also have been prevented from joining Arsenal because they signed before turning 18.
Wenger regards the ban on international transfers as the second part of a double blow because English clubs are prevented from signing youngsters who live more than 90 minutes from their training ground under FA rules.
“We are being rewarded for our youth policy over the years, but with the new rules coming in, it will make that policy virtually impossible,” Wenger said yesterday. “If you cannot add any players under the age of 18, and on top of that English clubs are limited to bringing in young players who live less than 90 minutes from the training ground, how can we produce home-grown players?
“It’s vital that this rule is not implemented because English clubs would have a domestic limitation and a foreign limitation, making it harder to produce home-grown players.
“In England we accumulate disadvantages. We cannot buy outside our 90-minute radius. We cannot take a player from Asia, North or South America, Africa, Serbia or Croatia, who are not EU.”
Wenger believes that the proposed laws could have a devastating impact on the quality of the Premier League, which for the past ten years has claimed to be the best in the world.
The Frenchman warned last season that a combination of rising tax rates for the highest earners and the soaring value of the euro would lead to more of the world’s leading players staying away from England and is concerned that if domestic clubs are denied access to the most promising players from the next generation, the Premier League would suffer.
“What can we do?” Wenger said. “We can only pray that somebody next to London Colney [where the Arsenal training ground is based] is as gifted as [Diego] Maradona and says, ‘Can I play for you?’ We want to be the best league in the world and that is why we have to open the doors to the best players. The first signs, with [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Kaká going to Spain, are not very good for us.”
If Uefa’s proposed ban on under-18 transfers had been in place for the past decade, Arsenal’s first-team squad would look markedly different, with ten of their players ineligible under the new proposals. Cesc Fàbregas would undoubtedly be the biggest loss, but Arsène Wenger would also be without several key squad players and potential stars of the future. (Times Online)
This is not good news. This excellent pieces highlights the constraints that could be put in place in the Premier League that will affect all clubs but perhaps most notably will greatly reduce the effectiveness of Arsenal’s reliance on youth, a reliance that is clearly a healthy model financially and therefore you would think the kind of sustainable model that the likes of FIFA and UEFA would back, but oh no, we are talking about two organizations that seem hell bent on bringing in legislation to strangle the game at every turn.
If the idea of this regulation is to prevent foreign clubs of having their youth academies plundered by Europe’s elite then there are more intelligent ways around it. For instance on the Continent it is still illegal to hold a player under the age of 18 to a professional contract, hence the ease with which English clubs can entice them to these shores, so why not simply address the ruling and allow all clubs to place players from 16 to 18 under contract and then it would be down to the player, and his representatives, to decide where he sees his future lies. Of course that kind of plan is far to sensible for the likes of Platini and Blatter!