We conducted research to discover which London-based Premier League clubs are currently promoting the most homegrown players. Furthermore, we try to understand whether developing those players in the first team results in top-flight success.
- Crystal Palace (15) currently have the highest number of homegrown players in their 2016-17 Premier League squad.
- More than half of Palace’s squad is made up of homegrown players (15 of the 29 players to have featured in their senior squad this season: 51%)
- Watford (eight) currently have the lowest number of homegrown players in their 2016-17 Premier League squad.
- The successes of Tottenham (2nd) and Watford (12th), however, suggest London clubs don’t necessarily benefit from developing more homegrown players in the first team
Crystal Palace Are London’s Kings of Premier League Homegrown Production
London’s Premier League powerhouses makes up almost a third of England’s first tier. The race to promote elite-level homegrown talent has pitted the capital city rivals against one another for decades.
Premier League quotas on homegrown players mean each top-flight club’s 25-man squad must house at least eight players who have played at least 3 years for an English club before they turned 21.
For the purpose of this research, players under the age of 21 who are active in Premier League and have otherwise met homegrown status criteria have been counted toward their respective club’s tally. This is in order to reflect which clubs are promoting talent as accurately as possible.
Research has shown Crystal Palace are the current kings of homegrown players. Both young and old, but with the club current ranking (18th), is there a price to pay for promoting native stars?
Of the total 29 players to have made the Eagles’ Premier League squad this season, 15 qualify as homegrown. It equals to just over 51% of the squad. Compare that with the less impressive tally of Watford, who house the minimum eight homegrown players in their squad, the lowest total of any London-based top-flight team.
Arsenal and Chelsea are each on the higher end of the scale when it comes to London teams promoting homegrown talent. They have respective totals of 12 and 11 players who have come through British academies in their squads.
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Tottenham’s Foreign Investments Paying Dividends
The homegrown quota is engineered to encourage clubs to develop English (and to an extent, British) stars. However, this season’s Premier League table suggests doing so doesn’t necessarily bring about Premier League success. Tottenham Hotspur are the biggest indicators of this.
The above table shows the spread among Premier League clubs and homegrown players, with relegation-threatened Palace the runaway outfit, boasting 27% of the total tally among London clubs. The closest to them is fourth-placed Arsenal with 22%, and leaders Chelsea follow in third with 20%.
Yet second-placed Tottenham, who boast just nine homegrown players (joint alongside West Ham United), are currently second in the division and are enjoying one of the best seasons to date. Granted, homegrown favourites Harry Kane and Dele Alli are among the club’s biggest stars. However, it’s foreign leaders like Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld who have contributed hugely to their advances in recent years.
The Premier League has long counted itself as one of the most cosmopolitan leagues in Europe, attracting superstars from all over, hence why division chiefs introduced the homegrown quota.
That being said, it appears meeting the quota at its minimum may be the real route to success. Crystal Palace is finding out the hard way that embracing British talent to its fullest could see a club fall victim to relegation.