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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 12:50 UK

Fifa's quota plans concern Dein

David Dein
Dean defended Arsene Wenger's tendency to use foreign players

David Dein has urged caution over Fifa's plans of restricting the amount of foreign players in the English game.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter wants to introduce a 'six-plus-five' principle whereby teams could only field a maximum of five non-nationals.

But former Arsenal vice-chairman Dein has issued a warning over the plans.

"This is probably the most contentious issue to hit English football since the Premier League was set up in 1992," he told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

"It's a hot potato and in my view it's not going to get any cooler.

"I think Sepp Blatter is on a mission to try and push this rule through.

"As it stands at the moment, it cuts right across article 39 of the EC treaty which covers the freedom of movement of professional footballers in the UK.

What Blatter is trying to do is very contentious and will hurt the Premier League. It needs a lot more thought.

David Dein
"Sepp Blatter and his colleagues have a lot of work to do to get this through."

Dein's former club Arsenal have been accused of hurting the English national team with a dependence on overseas players, with manager Arsene Wenger often not fielding an Englishman in his starting XI.

It is an accusation that can be levied at a number of top-flight clubs but Dein, a former vice-chairman of the Football Association, defended his former club and believes any quota could harm the Premier League.

"It is unfair to isolate Arsenal," he said.

"Look at Bolton and Fulham, who have got over 60% of their players from overseas. Arsene Wenger always said he looks at the quality of the player and not the passport."

He added: "Most of the Premier League clubs spend millions of pounds on their youth development programme and as we speak (Arsenal academy director) Liam Brady will probably be training six or seven teams from the ages of 11 to 17 to try and find the best of English talent.

"There is the home-grown rule which UEFA have introduced which seems to be working quite well. That is where you can have players come in from the age of 15-21 and as long as they have had three years training with the club in England then they qualify as home grown.

"What Blatter is trying to do is very contentious and will hurt the Premier League. It needs a lot more thought. It needs the Premier League, the FA, the Football League and PFA to sit down and think it through.

"You need as strong a national team as possible but there is a duty to protect English football and the Premier League sits at the pinnacle of English football."

Minister of Sport Gerry Sutcliffe was in agreement that Uefa's route was a positive step and also believes that to have a successful Premier League and national team is a difficult balancing act.

"I think he (Blatter) is committed to this route but I think the Uefa movement on home-grown players is a step in the right direction," Sutcliffe told Sportsweek.

"Certainly the Premier League is the best in the world and we don't want to do anything to damage that.

"But obviously it's very embarrassing that none of the UK teams are in the European Championships and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again. A balance has got to be struck."

see also
SPL split over Fifa quota plans
31 May 08 |  Scottish Premier
Smith sees positives in Fifa idea
30 May 08 |  Scotland
Academy influx concerns Bentley
27 May 08 |  Premier League
England player numbers at new low
27 May 08 |  Premier League
Blatter steps up player veto plan
17 Apr 08 |  Football
Blatter faces player quota veto
20 Feb 08 |  Football

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