The inevitable consequence of an acceptance of Insanity Week and the international matches therein is that Sepp Blatter and his fanatics will keep proposing the 6+5 regulation through which six players in every starting 11 have to be qualified to represent the “football country” in which they play.
(I say “football country” because it is important to recognise that within this approach Ramsey will not qualify as one of the six – he would be seen as “foreign”).
My belief in the past has been that we would not see much of this nonsense which would destroy the modern Arsenal approach, not least because it is so flagrantly against the spirit of the EU.
But it seems that the European Commission may be about to have a rethink and pass a judgement which excludes sport from this ruling because of the particular nature of sport.
This move, if it comes to pass, will put great value on anyone who can show that they could (if selected) play for Arsenal. For some players such as Almunia it would mean applying for UK residence – which is easily done after five years here. For anyone who has played for a country other than England, it will not be possible to make the shift.
If we had the rule now we would have to start with Almunia, plus possibly Denilson (who has not played for Brazil at full level and so might be able to change), Walcott, Wilshere, and another two selected from Bischoff, Coquelin, Fonte, Biggs, Hoyte, Lansbury, Merida, Randall and Rodgers. On the bench we might have such minor players as Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin…
So the answer will be not only to bring in players from overseas, but also persuade them not to play for the country where their grandmother was born, or whose nationality they have purchased, but to make themselves “available” for England. They don’t have to play for England, just not have played for any other “country” (we have to put country in inverted commas, because some of the international competitors are not countries at all. Northern Ireland for example is a province).
Another consequence of this development will be that English qualifying players who are any good will command insane fees not because they can play but because they can be “one of the six”.
It is a disaster so huge that it will make Insanity Week look like a jog in the park. It will certainly mean a decline in the quality of the EPL, which would mean a dramatic drop in payment from Sky and the like. That in turn will mean that clubs will be even more dependent on money from outside the UK as we have seen with Manchester Arab and KGB Athletico Fulham.
In effect a plan supposedly about making English football more English will make it become more dependent on money from overseas, and will reward those clubs that are able to bring in such money. Any ordinary English club owned by English people will simply go to the wall.
Well done FIFA. And to Bill Newton Dunn, MEP for my part of the country, if this goes through you absolutely won’t ever get my vote again sunshine. Know what I mean?
If by any chance you even vaguely believe that the EU should not give in to this rubbish, please write to your MEP. You can find your MEP by clicking here – you just enter your postcode and you get a list. If you have a UKIP member however it is not worth the effort – they think the whole notion of an English person being able to go and work in France as a matter of right utterly ludicrous.
(c) Tony Du Foret 2009
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