Foreigners cop it for England woes

LONDON - Premier League chairman David Richards has criticised the increase in foreign players at teams, saying it has lowered the quality of England's national side.

LONDON - Premier League chairman David Richards has criticised the increase in foreign players at teams, saying it has lowered the quality of England's national side.

Richards' comments, given after a speech to the Dubai International Sports Conference at the end of May, were quoted in British newspapers on Wednesday.

His views are at odds with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, who has long maintained that the steady increase in foreign players had not affected England's national team, which failed to qualify for the European Championship.

The Premier League said in a statement that Richards' comments "do not represent the collective view of the Premier League".

When asked about the effect of foreign players in the Premier League on the fortunes of the England team, Richards was quoted as saying: "Does the Premier League hurt the national side? I think the answer to that has got to be yes.

"We've been a bit lazy in the Premier League over the years. We created a system of academies and every club spends about £3 million a year developing young players.

"But it hasn't worked, because the availability for us to go out and buy the best stars is the easy thing."

Richards said former coach Steve McClaren, who was fired after failing to qualify England for the Euros, had been affected because many squad players weren't playing regularly in the first team at their clubs. - Sapa-AP

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