Premier League clubs have told the Football Association that they are producing the highest quality players in Europe, even if the volume of playing time for England-ranked players [EQPs] it has fallen steadily as the league has become more successful.
Gareth Southgate launched an outspoken criticism of EQP’s number of minutes dropping in the Premier League, to just 28 per cent of the total in the latter rounds of the day, when he announced his England squad on Thursday. Battle lines have been drawn between the two organizations over the future of the EQP and the England senior team, with disagreement over the possible consequences.
Southgate has warned that it may have to start selecting Championship players for international duty, saying January’s record transfer spend of £815m would further reduce the chances of local talent. The Premier League has commissioned independent research which it says shows that club academies are producing higher quality players for the England team than any other major footballing nation.
The Premier League does not believe there is a direct correlation between success at international level and having the most playing minutes for eligible players in the world’s biggest leagues. He says that, for example, the number of minutes played by Argentine players in the five major European leagues has decreased in the last three seasons, at a time when the national team has won the Copa América and the World Cup.
Research by the Twenty First Group, commissioned by the Premier League, used a rating system that measures position, playing time, game contribution and age, to place a market valuation of the top 25 players under the age of 23 years best qualified by nationality. . It placed the English cohort higher than any other with a market valuation averaging £48m.
According to the accompanying table, that was a considerable improvement over 10 years earlier. EQPs attract a higher premium by virtue of local quotas imposed by Premier League regulations on team profile, although it is unclear if that was factored into the calculation.
Premier League clubs estimate they have spent around £2bn on development since the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2012. That revolutionized coach volume and training, player contact time , educational and match programs, as well as facilities. available for the boys of the academy.
As the EPPP reached its tenth anniversary last year, it was hailed as a success by the FA, which has seen a huge improvement in the performance of England youth teams. The most recent success was England’s Under-19s winning the European championship for their age group last summer.
However, the data supports Southgate’s fear of a decline in playing time for EQPs. In the first Premier League season of 1992-1993, EQPs played 69.7 per cent of the minutes. By 2002-2003 that had fallen to 38.9 percent. It dropped to 30.3 percent in 2013-2014, but rose to 36.1 percent last season. Currently for the 2022-2023 season it stands at 30.5 percent.
The FA set a target in 2014 of 90 EQP playing regularly in Europe’s big five leagues by 2022. The Premier League claims 102 for the 2021-2022 season. It also points to the success of EPPP academy graduates in other leagues, such as Jude Bellingham, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham. Southgate has said that English football does not export enough EQPs to make up for the shortage of minutes in the Premier League.