(WFI) Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says English football is a “tanker that needs turning”, citing the detrimental impact of foreign imports on the England team’s prospects of success at the European Championships and World Cup.
Dyke has set England the target of reaching the Euro 2020 semi-final and winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
It’s the domestic situation that is at the root of the problem, he claims, in particular the dearth of homegrown players in the Premier League.
“The issue, quite simply, is this. In the future it’s quite possible we won’t have enough players qualified to play for England who are playing regularly at the highest level in this country or elsewhere in the world. As a result, it could well mean England’s teams are unable to compete seriously on the world stage,” he said.
In a speech today setting out the challenges for The FA in the years ahead, Dyke announced he would set up an FA commission that he hoped would include officials from the Premier League, Football League, the League Managers Association and the PFA. It aims to find solutions to solve the crisis.
“Let me stress up front this is not a criticism of the Premier League. I genuinely want to work hand in hand with the league to try to address what I see as a serious and growing problem.”
Underlining England’s lack of success on the international stage compared with England Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy and more recently, Spain and France, he spoke about the need to “get our development teams playing the right way”.
“We also have to improve how we identify talent, how we nurture it within our teams and we need to be clearer setting our targets so that players and everyone connected to English football knows what we are trying to achieve,” he added, noting the newly opened St. George’s Park facilities geared towards nurturing fresh talent and the importance of new U-21 coach Gareth Southgate in overseeing all the FA’s development teams.
He also called on Premier League clubs and those from the Football League to take more responsibility in developing English players and bringing them through the ranks.
Euro 2020, World Cup Targets
In setting English football the twin targets of reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and winning the World Cup two years later, he said they were realistic aspirations. Dyke added that he wasn’t writing off England’s chances of doing well at Brazil 2014 or Russia 2018. For Euro 2020, he said he expected UEFA to award Wembley a number of games, possibly England’s group games.
“I’ve no doubt some will say that targets are only burdening our players with more pressure but I don’t see it that way – top players have to be able to handle
pressure if they want to be winners and we want to be winners,” he said.
“One thing is crystal clear. Going forward we will certainly give ourselves a much better chance of winning tournaments if we have a bigger talent pool of players to pick from, which means having more English players who are consistent starters in the Premier League.
Dyke went on to cite a slew of stats to highlight the problem. He said in the 1992/93 season 69% of EPL players were English. In 2012/13, this had dropped to just 32 per cent. He said this would only get worse – last season, the number English players under the age of 21 in the Premier League filled only 2.3 per cent of the total number of minutes played.
This summer’s record transfer activity also came under scrutiny.
“Two years ago 37 per cent of all new signings by Premier League Clubs were qualified to play for England. Last summer the figure was 28 per cent. This summer the figure was 25 per cent,” he said.
“According to Deloitte, of the £630 million spent by Premier League clubs during the transfer window which closed on Monday, some £490 million went to overseas clubs for foreign players and a great deal of the rest was spent on foreign players already playing within the Premier League.”
Reports on Monday said that only 9 per cent of that overall spend was spent on English players and of the total summer transfers only 32 players, 22 per cent, were English.
In announcing the commission, Dyke said it would ask three simple questions – firstly in the commission’s judgment why has this happened, secondly what could be done about it and thirdly to work out how, if possible, we actually make those changes.
He explained: “The third is important because what I’ve discovered over time running a range of organisations is that getting the policy right isn’t always the hardest task. Often the toughest challenge is implementing ideas for change, particularly when the tanker needs turning.
“And English football, I think, is a tanker which needs turning.”
He concluded: “In short we all have a responsibility to do our best to reverse this frightening trend because if we fail we will be letting English football down and we will be letting the nation down.
“I believe my job, as chairman of The FA, is to ensure that the structures are in place to give future England teams the best possible chance of achieving success and that is what I intend to do.”
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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