England’s Youth In Crisis – An Infographic Investigation

“The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

After a summer where the England U19 team failed to reach the European Championships and the U21 team got surreptitiously dumped out of the Group Stage of their Euros competition scoring only one goal, suddenly the English footballing youth is in crisis. Should we be worried?

We want to stop picking on Greg Dyke, we really do. But the grand statement he issued to a throng of footballing elite some three weeks ago is still sticking in our craw. For your consideration today we have this little gem from the new director of the FA:

“What I am told is if you look around the youth set ups of our most successful clubs today what do you find? A lot of young foreign players brought to England to be developed by English clubs. The argument goes that these foreign youngsters are not super numery, they are taking the places English kids could have had.”

Ignoring the xenophobic ‘they took our jobs’ undertones, we have the issue of apparently too many foreigners in the Premier League club youth setups. Where is he getting his information?

Not a rhetorical question. It is within the public interest for him to disclose his sources. The numbers shown above are not hard to come by and just involve basic arithmetic to compile. And the results are stark. It is quite clear to see that the English boys dominate the Premier League youth ranks by a large margin. Indeed, 67.2% of all youth players in the Premier League club youth teams are English. A figure not far removed from the 69% of English players that competed in the first Premier League season – a figure that Greg Dyke spoke nostalgically of.

Take away the two welsh teams, who have no ill-founded duty to supply English talent and that percentage increases further. Furthermore, nothing changes when you single out the ‘most successful clubs’ – a confusing term, but lets assume Mr Dyke is referring to the title contenders and not reigning League Cup Champions (the Welsh) Swansea. The English percentage across Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, the Manchesters and Spurs is 65.6% – fractionally smaller than the rest of the league – but keep in mind that the 118 Englsih players in these teams make up near on a quarter of all EPL club English youth players.

So, the FA Chairman seems to have got it wrong again. But no time to bathe in the minimal victory of the footballing equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel as the Chairman’s ignorant, ill-educated gum-flapping may highlight a genuine problem with the Premier League team’s youth setup after all. Read on…


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