Premier League makes first move to help FA improve English talent
Development follows Greg Dyke's speech on the national team
Friday 13 September 2013
The Premier League has taken its first steps to help produce better England players following Football Association chairman Greg Dyke's impassioned appeal last week by making its Under-21 League more competitive with promotion and relegation.
The FA also announced today that Premier League clubs have agreed to take part in the Football Association Commission being set up by Dyke to help improve the development of English players. This follows growing concerns that academy football is producing an uncompetitive national team, a fear expressed today by the Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, who said that unlike in his native Spain, English academies – where 95 per cent of players are local – produced cosseted footballers too often sheltered from the consequences of defeat.
Now, from next season the Premier League's Under-21 division will be split into two. The top dozen clubs will go into a first division while the bottom 10, plus two category C academies, will form the second tier. The move, which is specifically designed to help improve the fortunes of the England team, was agreed at a meeting of the Premier League's shareholders who were addressed by the FA.
None of those present would have been aware of Martinez's comments, but he stressed how young Spanish footballers are weaned in clubs' B teams, playing in La Liga's equivalent of the Championship and League One.
This, he insisted, produced tougher, better footballers at a younger age. Spain have won the last two European Under-21 championships while England did not win a game at this summer's tournament or the Under-20 World Cup.
"What they have is a programme that develops men at the age of 18-21," said Martinez, who began his playing career with Real Zaragoza B. "Up to the age of 18 England are the best in the world but then they become over-protected."
Speaking before the FA's announcement, he added: "In the under-21s [at club level] you don't learn to get promoted or relegated, you don't learn that you can cost people their jobs. It is not a real environment."
As for idea of clubs' B teams playing in the Football League he went on: "Can you imagine playing at [Spanish] Championship level having to win games to try to get promotion and avoid relegation? You know what it means to play against men."
Martinez does not anticipate Manchester United's Under-21 team being allowed to compete with Derby and Middlesbrough in the way that Barcelona B and Real Madrid B play Zaragoza and Deportivo La Coruna in their second division.
"But you could have feeder teams," he said. "Accrington, for example, could have 10 players from Everton. Financially, there are many teams in League One and League Two who are having problems and it wouldn't be a bad thing for them."
Martinez compared two of Everton's young players. Luke Garbutt, signed from the Leeds academy three years ago for £600,000, has yet to make a senior appearance for the club, though he has played for Cheltenham. Gerard Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona and at 19 a year younger than Garbutt, made his debut for Barcelona B two-and-a-half years ago, at Cordoba.
"Deulofeu is man football-wise," Martinez said. "He has scored 18 goals at [Spanish] Championship level and the experiences you go through internally to be able to score goals against men make a big difference. Luke hasn't been put in that position."
Latest in Sport
NFL player Marshawn Lynch answers every question in post-game interview with 'Yeah'
Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
Prince Harry leads the congratulations for Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, calling him 'an absolute legend' as he crossed the finish line
Chelsea vs West Brom: Jose Mourinho turns on ‘Dr Sergio Ramos’ in Spanish spat
Six things we learnt from the Premier League: Same old problems for Arsenal; Chelsea in cruise control; Spurs can take heart from poor start
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'