PFA says Government is betraying grass roots

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, has accused the Government of betraying the grass roots of the game they claim to be trying to protect.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, has accused the Government of betraying the grass roots of the game they claim to be trying to protect.

Barely 24 hours after a £90m injection of spending was announced by Downing Street through the Football Foundation, Taylor said the prospects of young players had been harmed by the failure to back a Department for Education and Employment Select Committee report into work permits for overseas players.

The minister, Margaret Hodge, has rejected many of her own committee's findings and insisted that the Government cannot get involved in setting criteria for signing players born outside the European Economic Area. She also confirmed that placing a limit on players from inside the EEA would be illegal under the employment rights enshrined in the Treaty of Rome.

The Football Association are to seek a meeting with the DfEE to push their own plan for a limit of two non-EEA players per club in the Premier League and one in the First Division. This has the backing of the Football League and the PFA, but Taylor believes the Government's response represents a backward step.

"Not only have they ignored the views of the players' union and the football bodies, they have rebuffed their own Select Committee who we felt had assessed the situation correctly," he said. "When you consider that only yesterday, Tony Blair was talking about how the grass roots of the game has to be successful, it seems an enormous act of betrayal."

Hodge claims the Government only wants to let in the best non-EEA players and is "keen to get the balance right between rules that ensure home-grown talent is allowed to flourish and rules that only give access to players who can make a significant contribution to the British game".

Taylor rejects this and claims the Government have relaxed the work permit criteria to an alarming extent. "There are no longer discussions with the football bodies, no longer is salary taken into consideration, no longer are clubs asked if they have searched through England for someone better," he said.

"It is very disappointing that we have to convince our own Government of the need to give young players an opportunity. We shouldn't be looking to host the World Cup, we should be looking at ways to produce a team capable of competing in it."

* Fifa, the sport's world governing body, has decided not to change the result of the 2006 World Cup finals vote, which handed the tournament to Germany, despite an appeal from South Africa.

Comments