Premier League youth plan will help England's chances, says Scudamore

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The Independent Online

A radical shake-up of youth development at top-flight clubs coule help England's cause, according to Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.

Scudamore insisted that he and the clubs "suffered" from England's World Cup failure and that the new plan will raise the quality of players available.

He said: "What we can't do is have a knee-jerk reaction and alter everything we do, but it hurts us as much as it hurts anybody and we do suffer.

"It absolutely strengthens our resolve in terms of youth development and to make sure that the maximum number of young English players are identified to give the England team the best chance."

The reform, possibly including 'football schools', will see top-flight academies told to provide 15-20 hours of coaching for their nine to 16-year-olds instead of the current five hours.

The huge increase in hours would bring young players more in line with those in countries such as Holland, and academies will have to work with schools and open during summer holidays to accommodate the rise.

It follows a review by Ged Roddy, the Premier League's director of youth development, who has spent months comparing youth systems in Spain, Holland and Germany and in other sports such as swimming and cycling.

The plan was agreed by the 20 clubs before England's failure at the World Cup and Scudamore insisted this was not an admission that there were too many foreign players in the top flight.

Scudamore said: "It's not an acceptance that we have to do something about the foreign players, it's the opposite: if you are going to make it as an English player into our first teams you have got to be world class.

"There were 222 English-qualified players who played first-team football in the Premier League last season and we believe that is enough to find 11 to perform in international competition.

"What we really want is an England manager who is spoiled for choice."

Scudamore admitted that the increase in coaching hours for young players is "almost impossible" under the current school system.

He added: "I can envisage a day where in the north west of England we have a Premier League school where a number of clubs have their boys.

"Or perhaps a sports school in London where a number of sports get together and have a school for elite athletes whether it be swimmers, runners, rugby players or whatever."

Scudamore also announced tougher new rules on club ownership in response to Portsmouth's financial meltdown, with all prospective owners obliged to give the league 10 days notice of a takeover and prove they have the funds to sustain the club.

It is understood that Liverpool and a number of parties contemplating a takeover - including Chinese businessman Kenny Huang - have already contacted the Premier League to alert them that a change of ownership could be imminent.

Under the rules, the Premier League will have to be given 10 days notice of any takeover, and the prospective owners have a face-to-face meeting with league chiefs to convince them they have enough money for the season to come.

Other rule changes will see clubs having to provide evidence every quarter that they are up to date with tax payments to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - and that they will give permission for HMRC to give details on any non-payment directly to the league.

The former 'fit and proper persons test' has been renamed as the 'owners and directors test' and toughened up.

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