‘Put a cap on it’: Former footballer ‘Gantone’ Nesbitt reignites debate over importation of players

Former national and Empire striker, Andy “Gantone” Nesbitt
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By Neto Baptiste

Former national and Empire striker, Andy “Gantone” Nesbitt, believes the standard of play at football’s local level has diminished since the late 90s into the early 2000s and that allowing an influx of foreign players is not helping to improve the quality of the local talent pool.

Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Nesbitt who now resides in the US, said he has been back on more than one occasion and was not impressed with what he saw in the league’s higher tier.

“I was here some time ago watching a game between Jennings and I think Tryum, and Jennings had between 5 or 20 overseas players and Tryum had some too, but the quality was poor. I said to myself, who are these guys they sent for because these guys looked like they were leftovers, guys who can’t make their teams where they were from and they just sent them here, but it is important that you have good players so people can learn from them,” he said.

Nesbitt, who was known for his ability to powerfully head the ball and his accuracy in front of goal, however made it clear that he has nothing personal against foreign players but believes the flow must be controlled via a cap.

“I don’t have a problem with overseas players in the league, but I think teams are allowing too many, and our youngsters are not getting the exposure, and most of the time they will stop and do something else. I know Antigua people, I am Antiguan so I know if they are not getting any play that they are either going to go to another team or they are just going to give up the sport, so I think we should have a cutoff point regarding the overseas players so that our youngsters could be involved some more,” the former player said.

The debate over the importation of players by some teams has gone on for some time with the local governing body, the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) suggesting that clubs should set their own caps and decide how many players they import during the domestic season.

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