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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 February 2008, 19:57 GMT
Limit foreign footballers say MPs
Bob Russell
Lib Dem Bob Russell has led the call for fewer foreign players
A group of MPs has called on football clubs to cut the number of foreign players in the English game.

They want the government and football authorities to discourage clubs from recruiting so many overseas players.

A Commons motion, led by Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester Bob Russell, has been signed by 23 MPs who believe British players are being held back.

However, Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris said the idea would breach employment legislation.

National team

The MPs' Early Day Motion raises concern at the increase in the number of overseas footballers playing in the Premier League and the Football League.

It is perfectly reasonable to ask clubs to have at least three UK-born players on the park at any one time
Alan Simpson MP

It says in the Premier League's first year in 1992 there were 11 foreign players, compared to the current figure of 331 from 66 different countries.

They add that foreign players in the top flight outnumber British ones, with 60% among the Premier League's 20 clubs from overseas.

The MPs believe the rise in the number of foreign players is not in the long-term interests of football in England and is harming the prospects of the national team.

Talent pool

Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson, who has signed the motion, said clubs should have a minimum number of British players.

"It is perfectly reasonable to ask clubs to have at least three UK-born players on the park at any one time," he said.

But Mr Heaton-Harris said: "There is no way sport will get an exemption from employment law."

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick said recently that he is worried about the pool of talent available to the England team.

But the Premier League has said it has invested a lot of resources in developing England stars of the future.

SEE ALSO
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