Top flight 'in danger' of being dull, says Triesman

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Lord Triesman, the chairman of the Football Association, yesterday admitted that there was a "danger" that the Premier League could become predictable and boring. Reacting to the claims of Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle United manager, that the league was becoming less competitive because of the dominance of the so-called "big four" clubs, Lord Triesman said: "There is an important point in what Kevin said. Obviously you want every competition to be as open as possible and for sides to emerge and compete and we have seen that this season with the FA Cup.

"But an over-concentration of power and wealth is likely to make it a less exciting game overall. I don't think we have reached that point but there is a danger of it happening."

Lord Triesman claimed that the "very large sums" being paid from around the world for the rights to televise English football showed that the dire situation outlined by Keegan following his side's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday had not yet been reached. "I guess they have decided it's not boring and they want to buy it," the former Government minister, who took up his post earlier this year, said.

His criticisms, however, will not be well-received by the Premier League especially as there has been tension between the two organisations over who has the power to control and run the game in this country.

The FA is deeply concerned – and it's a point that has been made by England manager Fabio Capello – about the shrinking pool of talent emerging from England. Too many players are being imported from abroad, with Lord Triesman adding: "What I think we have to try and do is make sure that young players come through the academies and the schemes run by the FA, to make sure that there is a constant resource coming through. Otherwise you do get too great a concentration."

At the same time the FA has dismissed as unrealistic the proposals being put forward by Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, who has declared that he is willing to challenge the European Union to get a quota of foreign players within European teams. Blatter wants clubs to be limited to five foreigners in their starting XI to allow homegrown talent to flourish.

"I completely understand why in any sport or probably in any business if you feel the competition becomes tilted that people try and find a quota system to try and deal with it," Lord Triesman said. "I'm just repeating the fact that it appears to be contrary to European employment law."

Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, whose task it is to help develop young talent, added: "The big challenge is in the elite area. We need to increase the number of quality English players coming through, to take their places in the academies and then to emerge out of the academies and go to the clubs."