Soccer-British minister concerned over foreign player invasion

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LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) Britain's Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has joined the debate about the impact of foreign players in English football saying the Premier League has ''not got the balance right''.

With England facing the prospect of failing to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals, the likes of Reading manager Steve Coppell and England midfielder Steven Gerrard have supported a quota system for clubs to limit the number of foreign players.

''I understand the complexities of the issues around freedom of movement and competition issues, but it just doesn't feel like we've got the balance right at the moment and that we need to look at what is possible,'' he said in The Times today ''We may need to have some sort of independent look at what needs to happen. We have got the best league in the world and it's great that we have got the talent that is there in terms of the Premier League.

''But obviously we need to see how that impacts on and affects the national team.'' Premier League leaders Arsenal fielded a team of foreign players in their 3-1 victory over Reading on Monday, while Manchester United had only three English players in their starting 11 against Blackburn Rovers.

Sutcliffe has been outspoken since taking the job of Sports Minister. Earlier this month he caused a stir by labelling the wages earned by Premier League players as ''obscene''.

REUTERS RAR VC2030

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