English talent pricey

LONDON - The English game is being hurt by a lack of over-priced talent and a flood of cheaper foreigners, according to Blackburn chairman John Williams.

LONDON - The English game is being hurt by a lack of over-priced talent and a flood of cheaper foreigners, according to Blackburn chairman John Williams.

On the first weekend of the Premier League season, only 37 percent of players that started Premier League matches were English.

That was 81 players, a drop from 184 15 years ago.

And Williams sees that as bad for the English game.

"There is a shortage of English talent and you have to pay premium prices for those out there," he said.

"I'm afraid that we have to shop where the market is right, where the players are right and where the price is right.

"We want to support the England national team but the price of English players can be very off-putting."

West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson, however, insists it is understandable that domestic talent costs more but claims it still makes sense to buy British.

"You buy players who may have had a lot of success in the Dutch league or French league, for example, but that doesn't mean they are going to be successful in the Premier League. There is a bit of a gamble to take," he said.

"You have to pay a little bit more for players who have a proven track record in the Premiership and that's understandable and that goes whether you are talking about foreign players who have proved themselves in the Premier League or English players."

Magnusson does think it is important for clubs to have a strong base of domestic talent, however.

He added: "Sir Trevor (Brooking) can have no problem with West Ham because we want to have a strong England team and we believe it is important to support that and have English players at the club."

Sports consultants Deloitte believe there will not be such a dramatic rise in players' salaries compared to transfer fees, but Williams disagrees.

Deloitte's report shows transfer spending by English clubs this summer has exceeded R7000 million, smashing the previous summer's R4500 million.

Williams added: "My feeling is that wages will grow very considerably this year.

"The market is buoyant because of the TV money, there is an ability to pay and a willingness to invest."

Williams said it was not just the big clubs splashing out and that, in terms of net spending, Arsenal and Chelsea had actually earned more than they had spent in transfers during the summer. - Sapa-AFP

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