Rodgers Is Right. The Home Grown Rule Hurts Celtic And Clubs From Small Nations.

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I liked what Brendan Rodgers had to say yesterday, all of it. About our new players, about the transfer window, about our current squad, about our European goals. Amidst all of it, he had just one gripe; we have had to leave several key players out of the squad which we have registered for the Champions League. It’s a subject this site talks about a lot.

The issue, of course, is the eight home-grown players regulations, the ones which have had a particularly big effect on the club from Ibrox; they weren’t able to register a full compliment of 25 players because they don’t have enough domestic footballers. What a damning indictment of that club and its transfer policies that is.

Still, Rodgers was slightly miffed yesterday when discussing our own players and the guys he had to leave out of the squad. He is correct to point out something that clubs around Europe have highlighted recently and which one Belgian club is actually taking UEFA to court over; the way the Home Grown rule primarily benefits the bigger sides.

The reasons for his are simple enough; our population is tiny compared to those elsewhere, and thus we don’t have access to the depth of talent that a country like Germany or France or Spain or England does. The Belgians have the same problem, of course, and one of their sides wants to take this matter to court on the basis of restriction of trade.

I don’t know if I wish them well. I like the eight home grown players rule although it’s given us numerous headaches over the year. Rodgers himself doesn’t mind it as much as his comments would suggest; he made a point of talking up the need for a club like Celtic to have a strong core of players from our own country. I could not agree more.

He knows we have to bring more young players through, but we can’t make that happen just by wishing for it. The players have to be there in the first place, and this is where the size of Scotland is an issue, one that people like Ewan Murray apparently refuse to accept.

We registered our full quota, and every one of them is useful to the squad.

Four of them – McGregor, Ralston, Forrest and Welsh – would probably have been registered anyway. Two of our Scottish born players, but not developed by the club, Taylor and Turnbull, would have had a good chance too. But if Turnbull goes on freedom of contract, we’ve got an issue for next season. If Taylor is replaced as left back then we’ve got ourselves another one.

I would love it if we had six top class academy players in our squad, but we don’t.

There isn’t enough quality in the academy; there might not be enough quality in Scotland. It concerns me that there aren’t a core of good Scottish players in the league outside Celtic who you would say “Yeah, we should go out and get that guy.” But it doesn’t seem that long ago that the mainstays of the national team all played for our club; there was a spell there where we had Gordon, Tierney, Forrest, McGregor, Armstrong, Brown, Christie and Griffiths in the Scotland team all at the same time.

The best half dozen young talents I’ve watched in the last 15 or so years – Brown, Christie, Armstrong, McGinn, Griffiths and Turnbull – we went out and bought five out of six of them and so the idea that we would rather spend the money on foreigners is pretty ridiculous. We also bought plenty of others – a half dozen others off the top of my head; Jack Hendry, Greg Taylor, Scott Allan, Gary Mackay Steven, Craig Gordon and Lewis Morgan – with varying degrees of success.

But there aren’t nearly enough of them, and that’s a problem which isn’t going away. So I agree with Rodgers that this rule is unfair on us, but that we need a core of Scottish players anyway, as part of our club’s identity. If we could change things we would, and it would be the number of these players who are available rather than the alteration to the rules.

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  • Stevie says:

    Clubs in Scotland could do much more to develop home grown players than the amount of average players being brought in from abroad. Just look at Roco Vata just now cant get a sniff of a game and looks like the next to leave. SFA/SPFL could do more. I’d like to see the league cup to be played in a champions league format, with an open draw, and for players only eligible to play for Scotland. That would enforce clubs to focus on youth development if they want to win it. It would also be beneficial to young players and to the international team

  • Fat mike says:

    I think we missed a trick with josh doig, for all he went to verona for money wise. Him and Lewis ferguson (whom you’ve mentioned before) were the last decent prospects in the league worth taking a punt on. Others like ali mccann, Alan Campbell, Nisbet and hickey all moved to other leagues which instantly makes them unaffordable so the club has to look elsewhere. I’m not a fan of this lowland league involvement at all, need to find a better quality alternative to get the academy lads to a higher level

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    I like the ELEVEN home grown rule James. Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeil, Clarke, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox. HH

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Celtic had 8 or 9 of Scotland’s team on Wednesday on our books at one time or another. Not too shabby. HH

  • Benjamin says:

    There is one way in which the current rule actually helps clubs from smaller nations: by limiting the number of foreign players to 17, there is essentially a cap on how many of our young academy talents can reasonably be poached by one club or even by a collection of clubs from one association. With the current rule in place, there is a carrot that only Scottish teams can provide to Scottish players – a ‘guaranteed’ place on the Champions (or Europa) League roster. For some players that can be a pretty strong incentive to come to Celtic, or for academy graduates to stay.

    • watsamatabooboo says:

      The evidence would suggest exactly the opposite is true mate – in the last 5 years or so we have lost:
      Liam Morrison & Barry Hepburn to Bayern Munich
      Josh Adam to Man City
      Ben Doak to Liverpool
      Aidan Borland to Aston Villa

      The pick of our youths are being lured away without ever having kicked a ball for us, Doak excepted, by clubs able to offer much stronger Champions League ‘guarantees’ than we are, and even Villa should have realistic aims for the Europa every season.

      English & Germans got 7 Euro places this season, same with Italians who are now very aware of the value they can find in young Scottish players. These clubs can all offer proper youth set-up’s and a clear pathway to the first team while in Scotland we can offer games v semi pro’s then a massive black hole where progression was supposed to be.

  • Johnno says:

    Remain very unclear about
    this homegrown player rule still?
    No doubt any Scottish youngsters with huge potential, are far to easily lured away with better development opportunities and better money on offer, from club’s that have far bigger budgets with operating in bigger leagues.
    Hence for instance, if Liverpool were to loan Ben Doak in future, for a European campaign, would he even qualify as a homegrown player, even though he plays for Scotland at underage?
    Likewise lawal could qualify for ourselves as a homegrown player, even though he represents the Republic, same could be potentially said about vata?
    The confusion, for myself anyway is that I believe the rule involves having to be with a Scottish club, or moreso ourselves for 3 years under the age of 21, I believe.
    In turn it could mean us paying far more for a Scottish young player than he’s actually worth, just to fulfil a uefa rule, when far better value for money can be found far easier elsewhere?
    So in theory there remains far to many complications within the rule, where the bigger clubs can and will potentially fair better as per usual.
    Even vata currently, can be praised away for 300K, yet this CL is meant to be worth about 40M, still a struggle to get the right balance between the two still?
    Personally hope this Belgium club do win the case over the current situation that exists.
    Yet for our club, who has such a strong history, past and present with what we have given and provided for within Scottish football and the national team, for what we have received in return, only confirms just how fucked up Scottish football remains

    • watsamatabooboo says:

      The rule is a player has to have spent 3 years at a club that is a member of the same national association between the ages of 15 – 21.

      Think Vata qualifies now at 18 years old and Lawal will qualify at the end of this season. It doesn’t matter what nationality they are or which country they represent, big Ajer qualified in his last 2 seasons with us as we signed him at 16.

      Doak will probably never qualify as he went to Liverpool at 16 so only has a year / maybe a year and a half with us of the 3 required, and I think the chances of him spending another 1.5 / 2 years in Scottish football within the next 4 years are probably pretty slim!

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I don’t know how many Scottish players it takes to give Celtic a Scottish identity. I suspect not that many – three? The problem is of course the quality of Scottish players in general. Many of our Scottish players were not that great: currently Ralston, Turnbull, Bain, Taylor, Forrest are not considered by most to be CL material and before them there was a fair number in a similar situation. The problem is Scottish football as a whole. I thought Strachan had written a report for the SPFL identifying problems or solutions. Whatever happened to that?

    In some senses we are a declining nation: all that vile sectarianism tells you something – we never focus on the real issues now with consistency and commitment but focus on the past.

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