Burham blasts 'rampant commercialism' in football

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The Independent Football

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham believes the "rampant commercialism" of the Premier League is one of the main reasons for England's abject failure at the World Cup in South Africa.

The inquest has already started into why Fabio Capello's side, one of the pre-tournament favourites, performed so poorly before eventually bowing out after a 4-1 hammering at the hands of old foes Germany.

And Burnham, formerly the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC Five Live: "I think they (England managers) are dealing with the symptoms of a dysfunctional domestic game. We agonise and ask 'why didn't they do this?' or 'why didn't they do that?' but we don't get underneath the structural flaws in English football.

"I think money has poisoned our national game.

"The game has rampant commercialism, we have put money before the sport and we are reaping the dividends of that.

"We must choose whether we want the best league in the world or whether we want the best national team in the world. That is essentially the choice. We are paying players from around the world to come here and develop their skills while their own domestic leagues bring on the next generation when our players can't get into starting line-ups.

"Since the Premier League was created we have had commercial forces running riot, fans priced out of going to football, money going out of the top of the game and not benefiting grass roots. It has to change and I will keep saying it until there is some reaction."

Burnham also believes the attitude of top clubs in the Barclays Premier League may prove a hindrance to England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

"I went to Zurich with Capello and Lord Triesman to present our intention to bid, and I sat down with Sepp Blatter and spoke with him in detail. It was clear to me in that discussion, and those I had with (UEFA president Michel) Platini, they dislike the arrogance of English football and they think we have failed to tame commercialism.

"It effects football everywhere as it has an inflationary effect on wages.

"Our clubs are bringing in that talent from a young age, they see the effects of the English game on the stability of football elsewhere and don't like it.

"Sepp Blatter spent a long time saying FIFA's top priority was to bring in a home grown players quota, the six plus five rule as he called it, and I have always believed that is the answer.

"What that means is you can still bring in five world-class players but you have it enshrined you have to bring through domestic talent.

"It brings competitive balance back to our top flight as the top four cannot buy the best 11 players in the world. There are issues with European law and freedom of movement that need to be resolved, but FIFA and UEFA have been banging this drum for some time."

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has also criticised the decision of the Football Association to spend two weeks deciding the future of Capello.

He said: "He has a contract and if he wants to stay he should. I think the decision (over his future) should be taken at once and they should not be waiting for two weeks as it will lead to a lot of speculation in the British press and there will be many stories."