Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Substitute for Youth

There are two new rules that Football League clubs have seen introduced this season, one of which is obvious, but the other not so.

The change to the substitute rule this season – an increase from five players to seven allowed to sit on the substitutes bench, although it is still only three that can enter the field during a match – is seen when teams name their starting eleven, and then (for lower league clubs) try to find enough players to fill the rest of the match day squad.

But it is the other new rule, the introduction of the stipulation that at least four players in the 18-man match day squad must have been registered domestically for at least three years before they turn 21 that may cause most confusion. The four home-grown players can be of any nationality, which will help Premiership clubs mostly, as they tend to buy young, often at the age of 17, then register/play the kid at the club for three years (if they are good enough) before they can then be regarded as a "home-grown" player.

But in the lower divisions, clubs will need to bring on their own youth team players, and often thrust them into match situations just to satisfy this new ruling. Clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two will not have the option of buying youngsters and keeping them in reserve for a few years while they qualify; these clubs will have to make sure that they have a youth set up which gives them enough options and hopefully immediate results.

So who at Charlton can be regarded as home-grown, and more importantly for teams like Charlton and other lower league sides, do young (16- and 17-year old) players (like Jonjo Shelvey) also have to be registered for three years to count?

First, who qualifies for the Addicks? Checking through the club handbook, this is what I can deduce:

Well, we can obviously discount new recruits Christian Dailly, Fraser Richardson, Wade Small and Miguel Llera, and also others who have relatively recently been signed by the club like Nicky Bailey, Andy Gray, Deon Burton, and Matt Spring.

Of the rest, Rob Elliot (left) qualifies, having been at Charlton since he was young and he’s now 23 years old.

Kelly Youga is an interesting case – signed from Olympique Lyonnais in May 2005, he has been at Charlton for long enough, but I think he fails the qualification rule as he was 19 when he signed for the Addicks, and therefore didn’t get three full years in before reaching 21. I’ll stand corrected if that is wrong?

Jose Semedo was signed from Sporting Lisbon when he was 21, so he fails the rule, as does Therry Racon who was nearly 23 when he signed for the Addicks in 2007.

Lloyd Sam does qualify though, as he has been at the Valley since he was a youngster, and he is now 25. Grant Basey also qualifies, as another to graduate through the youth team; Basey is now almost 21.

Izale Mcleod has only been at The Valley for two years, and he is now 25, so he fails to qualify, and Chris Dickson is another who is well over 21 and not been at Charlton long enough. Nor has Stuart Fleetwood, while Dean Sinclair was 23 when he signed for Charlton.

Chris Solly (left) is a graduate, and still only 18, so he should qualify, as will Jonjo Shelvey, who is a year younger, provided he was signed from West Ham before he was 14. Scott Wagstaff is also a graduate who gets on to the OK list, and he is still a teenager.

Reserve ‘keeper Darren Randolph is another youth graduate and now 22 years old so he qualifies, and Alex Stavrinou is 19 and another graduate. Similarly, Tamer Tuna and Jack Clark are both graduates (who have been at Charlton since they were nine), and still very young, so they both qualify too.

Neither Yassin Moutaouakil nor Martin Christensen qualifies and it is unlikely that they will play for Charlton again anyway.

For information, as both Ben Davisson and Yado Mabo are not yet professionals, I have not included them in the above list, though they should both qualify I guess?

My main concern is over the youngest players we have in our squad, as some of them joined Charlton from other clubs, and they therefore may not yet have been at The Valley for three years? Shelvey for instance, was on West Ham’s books as a youngster, and may be yet to complete three years registered with Charlton?

If we presume that Shelvey is OK, Phil Parkinson will need to name at lest four of these players in his match day squad this season –

Rob Elliot
Darren Randolph
Lloyd Sam
Grant Basey
Chris Solly
Jonjo Shelvey
Scott Wagstaff
Alex Stavrinou
Tamer Tuna
Jack Clark

For the league opener against Wycombe on Saturday, Charlton picked six of these home-grown players in their match-day squad. With Shelvey and Sam both now injured, you can see that to fill the bench with two others (say, Tuna and Stavrinou) is necessarily weakening the team.

So when we are playing for important points later in the season, and fans question the choice on the bench of, say, Tuna over Dickson, it will probably be because of this new home-grown player rule. And maybe, just maybe, one reason why the club will not be interested in selling Jonjo Shelvey and Lloyd Sam just yet is also because of this new regulation, as without them (and the two ‘keepers) in the squad, we don’t actually have that many home-grown players left to put in!


Ummm.... I believe you're overlooking something. As I understand it, the rule does not state that the players have to be registered AT THE CLUB for blah blah... they simply need to have been registered at an English club for the blah blah.

Thus Bailey - for instance - counts, as do others.
I have to re-iterate that this isn't how I see, but if I am wrong, I apologise. Uefa's definition of "homegrown" means players who have trained at a club for three years between 16 and 21, which backs my blog. Lord Mawhinney also said "Local fans watching locally developed players at their local club is at the very heart of what The Football League is all about." It doesn't work if we can buy a Deon Burton or Andy Gray rather than need to bring through a Tamer Tuna or Lloyd Sam...

If I am wrong, then Llera, Semedo, Racon, and probably Youga do not qualify, while everybody else does so we don't have to worry about the rule at all. I would suspect that neaerly every League club has a similar squad make-up, so why have the Football League adopted this rule?

See http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7789808.stm

Quote: At least four players in every 16-man match-day squad will have to have been registered domestically for at least three years before their 21st birthday.

Thus they have to be registered domestically (or "home-grown") but not necessarily at the same club.
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