Wigan chairman calls for grass-roots changes

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The Independent Football

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan believes the strength of the Barclays Premier League is having a detrimental effect on the national side and has joined the calls supporting a shake-up of football at grass-roots level.

England Under-21s' recent early exit from the European Championship in Denmark was just the latest in a line of incidences which have highlighted the difference in standards between English football and some of its counterparts.

Last year's woeful World Cup display in South Africa and Manchester United's humbling by Barcelona in May's Champions League final are others.

And Whelan has supported the views of Gareth Southgate, the Football Association's head of elite development, after he said changes were necessary.

"People will say there are too many foreign players playing over here, and there's got to be some truth in that," the Latics chairman told the Wigan Evening Post.

"There needs to be changes at grass-roots level - that would help, there's no question.

"We desperately need more youngsters to be playing in the Premier League, but it's not easy.

"It seems to be the stronger the Premier League, the weaker the England team is - and that simply has to change."