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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 11:13 UK

Premier League 'hurting England'

Sir David Richards
Richards was addressing questions at a sports conference in Dubai

Premier League chairman Sir David Richards says the England team is being hampered by overseas players.

The league's chief executive Richard Scudamore has argued against the introduction of a quota system.

Yet Richards gave a damning verdict on the league's impact on the England team when he spoke at a conference in Dubai at the end of May.

"Does the Premier League hurt the national side? I think the answer has to be yes," Richards said.

"We've been a bit lazy in the Premier League over the years.

"We created a system of academies and every club spends about 3m a year developing young players. But it hasn't worked, because the availability for us to go out and buy the best stars is an easy thing.

"Anybody who comes into the league needs to stay in it, so needs to buy the best stars.

I would probably go as far as to say the Premier League probably cost (Steve McClaren) his job

Sir David Richards

"We pick kids up at eight years old, we send them to the academy, then at 16 we make them a student, then at 18 we say they haven't made it."

Richards's comments were delivered in a speech at the Third Dubai International Sports Conference, held in the United Arab Emirates principality at the end of May.

He has not denied making the comments, but has claimed what he said was not quite what he meant.

The Premier League responded to the news by saying: "These comments do not represent the collective view of the Premier League."

The views are certainly in conflict with Scudamore, who has insisted England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 had nothing to do with the influx of overseas stars to the Premier League.

But Richards went further by admitting former England manager Steve McClaren lost his job last year because of the status quo.

"Steve will tell you that he has to have the best players available and the Premier League has hurt him," Richards said.

"In fact, I would probably go as far as to say the Premier League has probably cost him his job. Because what we've done, we've actually bought all these foreign players in."

606: DEBATE
yeltzman

Research by BBC Sport last month found that the number of England-qualified players in the Premier League hit an all-time low last season.

Only 170 of the 498 players who started matches in the top flight in 2007-08 were English - just 34.1% of the total.

It marked a big slide from 2006-07, when 191 (38%) of the starters were English.

The Premier League's chairman also said their desire for an 18-club top flight has met with opposition from the 20 teams, adding: "The 20 shareholders said, 'No, we ain't voting to go down to 18'. So fixture congestion is a real problem."


see also
Fifa's quota plans concern Dein
01 Jun 08 |  Europe
England player numbers at new low
27 May 08 |  Premier League
England failures puzzle Capello
28 Apr 08 |  Football
A league for club and country
14 Jan 08 |  Football
Time to focus on country, not club
07 Jan 08 |  Football
Foreign trend to continue - Gold
04 Sep 07 |  Football
Brooking fears for England future
03 Sep 07 |  Football


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