Surprising facts from the unveiling of the “25-man squads”

As I revealed here back in July with my article titled In which I explain the “homegrown” rule so that even journalists can understand it the homegrown rule is, well, to be blunt, it’s fucking stupid.

Misunderstood by the xenophobic populace as a rule that is supposed to be forcing teams to play more Englishmen it is, instead, a rule which allows a team like Arsenal to dramatically name between 41 and 76 players (depending on which hysterical source you are reading). Well, I guess that settles it for Arsenal’s squad depth, eh?

I’ll explain the rule again, in the simplest possible terms, because I’ve read a lot of misinformation about the rule even to this day:

  1. No team may have more than 25 players over the age of 21.
  2. Of those 25 players, no team may have more than 17 “foreign-grown” players over the age of 21
  3. Teams can name as many under 21 players as they want. LITERALLY THOUSANDS.
  4. The rule doesn’t apply to Champions (or Europa) League, FA Cup or League Cup squads

The problem I find is that people are confused about the home-grown definition and what it’s supposed to do. Simply put, any player who went to an academy in England or Wales for 3/5 of the years between the age of 16 and 21 is a home-grown player and any player who did not, regardless of passport or the provenance of their father’s sperm, is not a home-grown player. They have to do this because the EPL is not allowed to have a straight up racist rule like “you must pick 8 people with English passports for every game” because it would violate the EU labor laws.

So, some funny things happen because of this rule: Cesc Fabregas, who father’s sperm is most assuredly Catalonian (at least according to chief sperm checker Xavi), is home-grown but Owen Hargreaves, who’s father’s sperm qualifies him to play for the English national team, is not. This happens because Cesc was trained in England and Hargreaves is the only Englishman to ever play in Europe, ever.

The other funny part about the rule is that it’s designed to give clubs with a robust youth program an advantage because the thinking is that they will bring more English youth up through their ranks. But again, this strength is also its “problem” because a club like Arsenal, with our insanely great youth program can name up to 76 players for the Premier League if we want.

So that’s the rule, that’s why it’s stupid, and this is the last time I’m going to talk about it until next year when the Premier League makes some kind of rule that you must have at least three freckled gingers on every team at all times or some such non-sense.

In the mean-time, what I did was took a look at every team’s submitted “25″ man roster and found the following odd facts that I’d like to report back.

Arsenal

Arsenal named 7 home-grown players to their 20 man, over 21 roster, and none of them are English (Bendtner, Clichy, Denilson, Djourou, Fabregas, Mannone, and Song).

The official roster on the dot com only lists 41 players, though the World’s Least Reliable News Source is claiming that we listed over 70.

Aston Villa

Stephen Ireland is considered home-grown despite being born in Ireland on a Cork Cob because he started his career with Manchester City. He is also a huge twat.

Birmingham

Birmingham named 25 players and as if to prove just how English they are named 14 home-grown. One of those players is Swedish born Sebastian Bengt Ulf Larsson, who earned his homegrown status at, you guessed it, Arsenal.

Blackburn

Fat Sam never misses a chance to criticize other teams for not playing enough Englishmen and thus ruining the English game, which is why he named a team of 25 Englishmen.

Just kidding, he named 8 home-grown players in his team of 21. One of whom is Swedish born Martin Tony Waikwa Olsson who qualifies because he trained with Blackburn as a youth. Keith Andrews also qualifies despite being born in Dublin because he trained with Wolves as a youth. Jason Brown also qualifies despite the fact that he plays for Wales. And their 8th and final home-grown player is Jason Roberts, the 32 year old Grenada striker. Way to go Sam, you are really helping the English national team with your contribution of 5 whole Englishmen!

Blackpool

Oh sweet, sweet Blackpool, you have named 14 home-grown players in your squad of 24.

Wait, something is very strange. The Mirror only shows 14 home-grown players but I’m pretty sure that Marlon Harewood and Brett Ormerod are home-grown. Also, as I look down the list Gary Taylor-Fletcher counts so by my count they have 17 home-grown players.

Also, I am shocked that the Mirror got some facts wrong. Shocked.

Bolton

Did you know that Fabrice Muamba counts as home-grown? That’s because as a youth he trained with… oh yeah, Arsenal!

Bolton also have named one American Footballer in their lineup with the surprise inclusion of linebacker Kevin Cyrill Davies.

Everton

For some reason, Everton only named a 21 man squad. Odd, especially since they have 9 home-grown players, including Tim Cahill who despite his father’s “Made in Britain” sperm plays for the Australian national team and qualifies as homegrown because he spent his youth campaign at Milwall.

Fulham

FULHAM NAME 25 ACTUAL MEN TO SQUAD, NO ONE CARES.

Liverpool

Named 21, 8 are home-grown, and one is a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Gross, I can’t believe that I am talking about Gerrard’s member.

Manchester City

What will £300m in transfers get you? A 25 man roster with 11 Englishmen! Well, Shay Given isn’t English and I don’t think he counts as home-grown but it’s real close with him. According to wikipedia, Given signed with Blackburn in 1994 but I can’t find any record of that. Oh well, who really cares? The point is that if your club only spends £300m in transfer fees and pays ludicrous salaries, they too can name a 25 person roster replete with Englishmen and chock-a-block full of home-grown players.

And still have room for no less than 6 holding midfielders.

Amazing.

Man U

Uhhh… why does the Mirror list every other team except Man U? Jesus, they are lame. Why do I read this trash?

Newcastle

Newcastle named 21 people to their squad and two animals: Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan. Coincidentally, they are also considered home-grown.

Stoke

Again, the window lickers at the Mirror (mirror lickers?) can’t seem to get their facts straight, but hey, when we are talking about whether Stoke have 16 or 17 home-grown players, does it really matter? They named a squad of 25 and they have 17 by my count (Danny Collins is home-grown, because Wales counts — HA HA SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND!).

Congratulations, you have the most home-grown players of any team in the League. Enjoy the haughty feeling that comes with knowing that you are producing such English luminaries as Ryan Shawcross as you stare into the abyss of relegation.

Sunderland

Don’t really care how many or why but I did notice that David Healy (born in N. Ireland, trained in ManU) also has an MBE. He received the awardduring the Birthday Honors in June of 2008 which he quickly made even more honorable by doing his flute celebration one month later during a friendly against Celtic.

What a guy.

Tottenham

The England B side also named 25 players to their roster, which is a bit of a surprise considering that we all thought they would need to trim in order to stay under. But then again, when you have Robbie Keane, Jermaine Jenas, and David Bentley on your roster you sure can fill spots.

West Brom

Ok, I didn’t bother reading their roster.

West Ham

25 and 10. Yay, go England.

Wigan

Whoa, Wigan only named 19 players and only 7 of them are home-grown. They could have easily named at least 5 more players but they didn’t. I wonder why?

Oh well, a team of 19 isn’t going to cut it in the Premier League and I’m afraid that this is a pretty clear indication that they are relegation fodder.

Wolves

See, even Wolves named 25 people. Get on the band wagon, Wigan!

15 of their players are home-grown though, good enough for second place (or maybe third) in the home-grown count. Yay, you too will be relegated!

UPDATE

BWAHAHAHAHA… how did I miss Chelsea? I have no idea. Maybe it’s because their squad is so small? Just 19 players? Maybe it’s because their squad is so small because they only have 4 (FOUR!) home-grown players (Terry, Lampard, Cole, and Turnbull) meaning that they have a limit of 21 players over the age of 21?

Ross Turnbull???

Oh Jesus, this just made my day.  Thanks to the readers who pointed out that I missed Chelsea.

34 thoughts on “Surprising facts from the unveiling of the “25-man squads”

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Joe

      @Wengerball, Actually only 1 came through their youth system:

      Cuntly Cole – Arsenal
      Fat Lampard – West Ham
      Ross Turnballintoownnet – Middlesbrough
      John “Shagging” Terry – Chavs

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1sachin

    >>Cesc Fabregas, who father’s sperm is most >>assuredly Catalonian (at least according >>to chief sperm checker Xavi),

    :) Thanks for this line Tim. I needed a laugh. And you did get your facts 100% right on this one. Xavi is indeed the official sperm checker. My friend whose lives in Barcelona said that his girlfriend knows a friend whose roommate’s girlfriend has a cousin who worked in a hospital and knows for a fact that Xavi drops in every now and then, dons a white coat and latex gloves and disappears into rooms to perform touchy feely stuff and does tests in the lab afterwards. Why? Because Barcelona don’t want to ever lose a great future talent to another team, so they want to analyze sperm samples to identify genes which will result in future great players. The Barca president was reported to have come up with this idea after watching the film Gattaca. Xavi decided to put his hand where his mouth is and volunteered for this position.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1frankie frankie

    wenger can never afgain complain of having a small squad weather 41 or 7600 there are plenty of players to chose from.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1fourstar

    Splendid write up of a truly ridiculous situation. I do just love that Arsene has taken the mickey out of the FA by naming all his U-21s in the squad. Bravo.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Akash

      @fourstar, And not a single Englishmen in the squad of over 21.. Hilarious!!

      On a serious not all of our youngsters will be 22 in a 3-4 years. Which means we’d be forced to sell a few just for the heck of it. Plain stupid rule.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid69

        @akash,

        We wont have to sell, they will all be homegrown. We only have 13 non home grown players on the squad including Flappianski and Mooney.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Limestonegunner

        @Akash, In fact, we’ll probably make a lot of money selling good, talented youth team players who were trained at Arsenal as “home grown” eligible players to teams that can’t meet the rule otherwise. That’s if this stupid rule continues beyond next year.

        Major props to Arsenal for showing what a mockery this rule is and naming no first team Englishmen among their homegrown players and tons of under 21′s! Very nicely done and it seems to have provoked a reaction–the Sun’s headline for the story was fArse!

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Feygooner

    Okay great blog today, I enjoyed it very much, but even though I am a die-hard gooner (and most assuredly do not want Wenger to leave), I think you should stop pointing it out so badly that we’ve trained so many of other teams homegrown players. It reflects badly on them, and we wouldn’t want Sam “tha walrus” to get hurt, would we?

    Seriously though, it’s kinda annoying.

    Also, to those people getting excited by the fact that we’ve seemingly named every single every single U-21 at the club in our squad, 16 year olds like Zak Ansah (to talk about the brighter talents) will not get to play. And when was Wenger complained about squad depth?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Naylyn

      @John, According to this list the number of youth players for each of the top 6 teams are:
      Arsenal- 56
      Liverpool- 53
      Man United- 47
      Man City- 44
      Chelsea- 43
      Tottenham- 43

      So since we have 20 over 21′s that gives us a total squad of 76. We’ve got the biggest number but we haven’t exactly blown the other teams out of the water.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1AnonymousGun

        @Naylyn,
        but then, say that all the teams concurrently lost their first XI and had to resort to U21.. Which team likely to get the upperhand?

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Baygooner

    So, I dunno, and its difficult because all English player names sound alike, but it seems to me that very few of the Under 21 squads have any real quality — Arsenal, of course, with Theo, Wilshere, Ramsey and Gibbs in Tier 1, followed by Eastmond, JET, Coquelin, Frimpong, Freeman and Randall. But who else? United have Macheda, the DaSilva twins, Obertan and Walbeck, and Spurs have Bale and Giovanni, but other than your occaisional Balotelli (City), Sturridge (KGB), or Rodwell (Everton), who is there who is showing any youth quality in these lists?

    No doubt I am missing a lot, so help me out.

    Question 2, of course, is how many of those “home-grown” players over 21 with the DNA of Saxons, Normans, Celts, West Africa and other “native” English stock actually came up in the teams for whom they now display the “Homegrown Over 21″ badge of honor?

    Makes me wonder if there shouldn’t be another requirement, since experience, longevity, and games played is so important — how about a list of those over 28 or 30, maybe called “Near Sell-by Date.”?

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    First go round on the 25 man rule. Has anyone seen any ‘fired’ footballers putting their Lamborghinis on the market for cut rate prices? Are there any footballers down in Piccadilly Circus with a cardboard signs saying: “Will play for food”? Stay tuned.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Hrochnick

    Great article again mate. Every Journalist should be made to read this and your July post – you can still see inaccurate definitions of the rule even today, quite amazing.

    If you thought the Mirror article was bad, you obviously didn’t read the Sun’s:

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/3121539/Arsenal-and-Man-City-helped-turn-the-Prems-brave-new-dawn-into-a-farce.html

    Quite un-bloody-believable complete with contradictions, inaccuracies, jingoistic crap and well… read it and weep. Makes me sad to be English but glad I don’t live in England.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Hrochnick

        @Tim, I think I followed a link from twitter, you know one of those ones where you can’t see where you’re going… still, I always knew it was a shit paper but I can’t believe how much worse it seems (if that article is anything to go by) in just a few short years!

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Dooley

    Casually slagging off Fulham? Nice.

    Also, Chelsea are hilarious. Hilariously fucked. More hilarious than Hilario. They don’t even have him anymore. Awesome.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Wigmorepumps

    Is the 25 man squad rule, only applicable to Premier League clubs or are all European Clubs that play in their respective countries top flight divisions also subject to this rule – i.e, is this purely a Premiership League experiment or a UEFA one? Also, in previous seasons, how many squad players were usually named for a season? I never really took notice of this sort of stuff.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Simon Says

      @Wigmorepumps, I believe there might be something similar in Spain. An article i read after Real purchased Ozil mentioned how they couldn’t assign him a first time number in his first preseason game for them as they had 26 players in their first team squad so he got the #26 as a result. I think that’s why Valvado, the director there was so adamant about clearing so much of the dead weight their with Drenthye, the 2 Diara’s and Gago all being available. He also put a end to any speculation of a new center forward coming in.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1LeProf

    Wenger is right the rule is stupid and irrelevant to football quality. Now the true value of any player worth that 3 years, not real quality football talents. So as long you got that 3 years any ball-kickin’ donkeys, you’re in! And what dope says 21 years of age is universal football puberty line? Such stupidity galore nowadays eh!

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Harrison

    Alright, Sorry to be anally retentive (but I am a football fan so it comes naturally) but Fabrice Muamba is actually an English home grown player.

    You probably did know that but it didn’t come across in your otherwise excellent blog.

    Keep up the good work

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