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Who is losing sleep over the Six-Plus-Five proposal???

Sebastian2010-05-04 01:38:37 +0000 #1
Why ‘Six-Plus-Five’ Will See Italy Conquer England Again

It has been a chastening week for the Italian game with all three Champions League representatives being dumped out of the competition by English clubs.'s Gil Gillespie thinks the balance of power will soon be swinging back the other way...

A wind of change is coming. Following the clean sweep by English clubs over their Italian rivals in the Champions League, Arsene Wenger made a point of saying that periods of supremacy in football are cyclical and that the current dominance of the Premier League in Europe will not last forever.

Wenger is almost certainly correct. But not, perhaps, in the way he thinks.

If FIFA president Sepp Blatter manages to persuade the European Union to let him implement his much talked about 'six-plus-five' directive, the era of supremacy of England's top clubs will almost certainly be coming to an end.

With the 'six-plus-five' idea seemingly gathering an unstoppable momentum, it looks as though the number of foreign players permitted in any European teams’ starting XI's from the 2010-11 season will be limited to seven, a figure that will then drop to five the following year.

In three years, Wenger, if he's still around, and his compatriots will have to find six English players to compete against Italian, Spanish and German teams, all of whom will have at least six home-grown players of their own.

The team that Wenger sent out on the pitch at the Stadio Olimpico against Roma last Wednesday evening to start the match contained not one English player. Rafael Benitez' Liverpool side boasted just two Englishmen, Chelsea had three on the pitch against Juventus and the Manchester United team that needed the assistance of the woodwork

to get past Inter included four players born in the clubs' country of origin.

Even the normally jingoistic English newspaper The Sun was loathe to celebrate the Champions League victories as an 'English success'.

"Let us not kid ourselves that the current revolution is something English," howled their editorial, savagely.

With the 'six-plus-five' ruling now almost visible on the horizon, the biggest problem facing those in charge of the big four Premier League clubs is a serious dearth of home-grown talent.

How are they going to fill all those positions? Can you name 20 plus English-born players who will be good enough to compete in the Champions League by 2012? Thought not.

Even the clubs outside the top four of the Premier League are stuffed to the gills with imports from all four corners of the globe. Modestly-funded sides such as Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic frequently turn out sides with six, seven or even eight overseas stars on the team-sheet. There is no room for native talent to develop – and there is no talent breaking through in any case.

But, if you take a look at similarly sized clubs in Serie A, it is a very different story.

According to the recent investigation ‘Italy v England: Premier League Full Of Foreigners, Serie A Home-grown?’, the Serie A clubs outside the top four (Inter, Milan, Juventus and Roma) average just 3.25 foreigners per starting X1.

Even Milan, Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina usually have less than six stranieri in their side’s at kick-off. With the exception of Inter, the Italian top flight is already operating under the rules laid out by FIFA's 'six-plus-five' legislation.

And this has not just happened out of necessity or an inability to compete with the Premier League financially. Italian authorities have long been resistant to the hijacking of Calcio by foreign forces, simply because they are rightly proud of the unique identity of their football and do not want to see it reduced to a bucket of watery, multi-national soup.

Anyone accusing FIFA of fuelling the flames of xenophobia needs to ask themselves this: why do we play sport in the first place? Sport, surely, is all about nation against nation, the clash of two cultures, one deeply-held idea pitched against another in a battle for ultimate supremacy.

So when Italian clubs play English clubs in the greatest club competition in football, these sporting foundations should be in place, just as they were before the Bosman ruling came into being in 1995.

But when Inter play Manchester United these days, it is Italy versus England in only name.

"There is precious little of English or Italian in these teams,” Marcello Lippi commented in Il Messaggero last week.

Arsene Wenger, of course, says that any limit on the number of foreign players would damage the quality of the Champions League. But does FIFA's insistence on international teams using home-grown players in the World Cup have a detrimental effect on the quality of the football played in the competition? Even if the standard is lower than it is in the Champions League, as Wenger contests, does this devalue the tournament in any way? No it doesn't.

But maybe Wenger is so vocal in his protestations against the 'six-plus-five' rule because he knows that his English-based club are going to be in trouble if, or when, it is introduced. The same goes for the other bosses of the English Champions League clubs.

Unless they act now, and now might already be too late, the four foreign-owned, foreign-managed and foreign-staffed English clubs will have to deal with the playing field being suddenly levelled when the 'six-plus-five' ruling comes into place.

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, seems to be trying to bury his head in the sand over the ruling, crossing his fingers that it either won't happen or he will somehow be able to find his way around it.

There can be little doubt that if the six-plus-five rule came in tomorrow, it would be the Italian and Spanish clubs who would dominate next season's Champions League.

Italy, in particular, is bursting with youthful talent. The Italian Under-21 side, although currently trophy-less, is up there with the best in the world. And, if FIFA get their way, the likes of Sebastian Giovinco, Antonio Nocerino, Marco Motta, Davide Santon, Claudio Marchisio, Robert Acquafresca, Vincenzo Fiorillo and a whole host of others will suddenly become much hotter properties as Milan, Juventus, Inter and Roma try to fill their six native player spots with the best home-grown talent available.

Where are their English equivalents'? They are probably sitting at home on their Playstations, victims of a dismal physical education and a culture of nihilistic lethargy.

FA development chief Trevor Brooking has been warning for some time now that he has never known the quality of young English players to be so poor. Brooking believes England are ten years behind Spain when it comes to youth development.

The billionaire giants of the Premier League may be celebrating their status as the top European football superpower at the moment but, at some point in the next couple of years, English football will need to become a little more English again.

The days of the Premier League clubs buying success in the Champions League are numbered. And the rumours about the death of Serie A have been greatly exaggerated.

This is great article and not a self comforting one.We all know that this intriguing new rule will really put things in place and only then a team can really make his DOMESTIC league proud.This will breathe new hope for the youngsters from all around Europe as far as the strongest leagues are concerned and it is definitely a new adventure for European football.



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