League questions Commission plans

08 May 2014 06:47

The Football League has suggested Football Association chairman Greg Dyke's England Commission report lacks "a solution that is acceptable at the current time".

Dyke on Thursday unveiled a raft of proposals aimed at boosting the number of English players at the top of club football.

The most controversial is the introduction of Premier League B teams in a new 'League Three'.

Deep reservations about that plan have already been expressed by various clubs both at the top and bottom of the professional game.

And Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said in a statement on Thursday: "From its outset, The Football League has engaged with the FA chairman's England Commission and encouraged our clubs to do the same.

"The league board met informally with Greg Dyke yesterday, to listen to and question him on the rationale behind the proposals he has put forward for discussion by the wider game and to consider the potential effect they would have on our competition and clubs.

"The board considered the matter further at its meeting earlier today.

"It is our view that the objective of increasing the number of quality English players is laudable and while the report may not contain a solution that is acceptable at the current time, we should continue to engage with the commission to establish whether there is a solution that meets its stated objective but does not leave the Football League carrying a disproportionate or unreasonable burden.

"The commission's report signals the beginning of a consultation process in which we will play a full and active part.

"This will include discussing all the relevant matters with our clubs, who will determine our ultimate position on these issues."

Dyke's proposals also feature an overhaul of the work permit system and a reduction in the number of non-home-grown players in squads.

He has set a target of increasing the number of English players in the Premier League from 32 per cent to 45 per cent by 2022, which he described as ''ambitious but realistic''.

Dyke also announced a proposal for the development of ''strategic loan partnerships'' between clubs.

England manager Roy Hodgson said: ''I welcome the proposals and I know that the chairman - and indeed everyone who is passionate about English football - would strongly advocate the findings and recommendations.

''We all have a responsibility when called to answer the question, 'how can we provide a better platform for the young England players of the future?'''

Labour's Shadow Minister for Sport, Clive Efford, said: ''This report focuses the majority of its attention at elite player development - but without improving facilities and the quality of coaching at the grass roots throughout our communities this will all come to nothing.

''At a time when the wealth in the game has been growing at an eye-watering rate investment in grass roots has been going down.

''This cannot continue and the FA and the Premier League cannot continue to get away with this.''

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is another who has concerns with regards to coaching.

The Frenchman believes greater technical education of young players who ''cannot head the ball and have no left foot'' over simply just playing matches is key to the development of English football.

He said: ''At the moment with the development of young players in England, you have to balance the training and the competition. For me the competition has too much importance, and the training too little.

''The time the kids spend on the pitch from the age of eight to 17 in training is too short. The time they spend in competition is too big, so to add more competition does not make sense.

''The sense is made by reducing the competition time and increasing the time in training.

''I have seen too many kids come to the age of 17 or 18 and they cannot head the ball, they have no left foot because they have not practised enough.

''After what they try to do is to improve the level of competition after the age of 18, when the education is finished.

"That makes sense because at the moment you have a problem for the people who come out of the academies who don't get the level of competition they need. That is why some clubs have feeder clubs.''

Supporters Direct (SD), a group that helps fans to set up democratic cooperatives to gain influence in the running and ownership of their clubs, also suggested there is a problem in terms of coaching.

SD said that needs focusing on rather than the B team concept - which it believes will "serve to reinforce the system of player development that currently results in the stockpiling of talent" - and called for broader distribution of wealth in the game.

A statement from SD detailing what it had said as part of its evidence to the Commission read: "The introduction of feeder clubs or B-teams will serve to reinforce the system of player development that currently results in the stockpiling of talent.

"We believe that the FA needs to take the lead on this issue as it is a whole-game concern.

"Player development is central to the success of the English game in the same way as the regulation of football clubs in the financial, governance and ownership sense.

"We have a depth in our professional football system that should mean we have the deepest talent pool coming through but it isn't happening.

"That is not because we don't have feeder clubs for the top clubs, it's because the coaching and infrastructure is not right. This can only be changed with a strategic game-wide approach, overseen by the game's governing body.

"Distribution of talent generally follows the distribution of money. In the English game, the vast majority of the game's financial resources are vested in a small group of elite clubs who can afford to develop their talent.

"The game should be looking at ways to redistribute those monies more equitably so that there is the broadest possible base to access and nurture talent for the England teams."

Former England striker Gary Lineker also feels the concentration needs to be on coaching, rather than "this B team league nonsense".

Lineker wrote on Twitter: "I've now read the full FA report. Some important points in there, that have been ignored because of this B team league nonsense.

"We need to focus on points surrounding the coaching and cultural development of young players and lack of funds for coaches, facilities etc.

"You'll win nothing without kids, being given the best coaching, decent playing surfaces and protection from clueless parents."

Source: PA