Are UEFA's New "Home Player" Regulations Good or Bad For the Game?
Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia expressed his disappointment yesterday at being left out of the club's 25-man squad for the upcoming Champions League group phase.
This is partly because of new UEFA regulations that require all teams participating in the Champions League to have at least eight homegrown players in their squads. This has forced manager Rafa Benitez to omit Hyypia to make way for academy hopefuls, Jay Spearing and Stephen Darby.
Hyypia said he was "shocked" by the decision, but understood that it was necessary and still hopes to play a part in the Reds' domestic matches.
This has forced me to weigh up the pros and cons of UEFA's new regulations.
On the one hand, it encourages clubs to give their young hopefuls more experience, and keep tabs on the number of home players in their squads. It is refreshing, because many top teams in the Premiership have very few English players nowadays, and Liverpool and Arsenal are probably the worst offenders for this.
Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are the only English players to regularly make the starting line-up for us, and this disappoints me.
Despite that, some of the youngsters were given a chance during preseason and they will hopefully build on their experience in the Champions League.
Many clubs in Europe will not have a problem adhering to the new rules, because they have fewer foreign imports than in the Premier League. But it has already posed a problem for clubs such as Liverpool.
Sami Hyypia is a vital part of the team, and has performed magnificently in Europe in previous campaigns. We have Carragher, Skrtel, and Agger as well as Spearing and Darby to fill the centre back berth.
But what if it comes to our final group stage game, which we must win to qualify, and we have one or two defenders injured?
Darby or Spearing will have to be drafted in, of course, but it puts a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders. I doubt they will be able to do the job as well as Sami can on such a huge stage.
Some of you may disagree with me, but there is no doubting that the Finn has been one of the cornerstones of our success over the past eight or nine years.
Of course, I hope such a situation never arises, in fact I hope that by the final game of the group phase Spearing and Darby are drafted in, but only because we have already qualified and there is no pressure on the team.
Leaving Sami out could be a gamble, but on the other hand I respect UEFA's attempt to encourage the inclusion of home grown talent.
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