Dyke: We must act to end English talent crisis
Faced with the possibility of England being "unable to compete seriously on the world stage" because of a shortage of players appearing at leading clubs, the Football Association yesterday reverted to the default mode of English sport and set up a commission.
It will include representatives of the Premier League, Football League, the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association and is due to report in the new year. Before then views will also be invited from all interested parties, including supporters' groups, academics and even journalists.
The inclusion of the Premier League, which many see as a prime cause of the problem, is designed to emphasise that, as new FA chairman Greg Dyke put it, this new approach is no "declaration of war" and "no blame game".
His heavily trailed speech was titled "Future of the England Team" and made it clear that the future was anything but bright if present trends continued. He quoted the statistic that in 1992-93, 69 per cent of all players starting matches were qualified for England. Ten years later that figure was 38 and last season it was 32.
On average there are 70 English players appearing at that level each weekend, although Roy Hodgson, England manager, above, believes the pool realistically available for the seniors is between 30 and 40.
"The question I want to ask is a simple one," Dyke said. "Do we let this trend continue or do we actually do something about it? Last season's figure for the Premier League was 32 per cent English players starting. What happens when that declines to 25, 20 or even 15 per cent? Do we ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Or do we take action now? The situation is very serious."
The commission will therefore ask three questions: Why has it come to this? What can be done about it? How can any proposals be implemented?
"Going forward we will give ourselves a much better chance of winning tournaments if we have a bigger pool of players to pick from," Dyke added, "which means having more English players who are consistent starters." MORE
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