£1bn TV deal will damage the England national team, claims Roy Hodgson
England manager fears greater wealth will leave home-grown stars on clubs' fringes
The England manager, Roy Hodgson, said yesterday that the new £1bn annual Premier League television rights deal will make it even harder for English players to command first-team places, to the detriment of the national side.
During the course of a discussion in which he argued that it was impossible to replicate the summer success of Team GB at the Olympics as a whole, Hodgson said that the financial rewards of survival in the top flight meant he and his assistants might have to do an increasing amount of their scouting in the new Reserve League.
"You could say the league is already wealthy and now that's going to double," Hodgson told a breakfast event for Club Wembley members at the English game's national stadium. "You are going to get £70m, going up to £100m if you are [a] successful [team]. You won't have many English players who are going to get [a chance]. With Team GB we are talking about athletes who are born and bred in their own country and there are no complications with regard to any foreigners taking their place."
Hodgson said he held out hopes of the Premier League considering a quota of a third of players being non-English. However, that is wishful thinking as a quota system is unenforceable in European law and there is no intention to attempt to introduce one, with the Premier League instead seeking to use its Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), youth development plan and the new Under-21 league to drive up standards and equip the national side with the players it needs.
The Football Association has been a strong backer of EPPP from the start and Hodgson does share hopes that it will deliver. But the England manager clearly has frustrations about the dearth of English players on show at some clubs. "If you go to watch West Brom play, you [just] watch Liam Ridgewell," he said. "If you watch Wigan, you don't watch anyone. If you go to watch Fulham, you watch Steve Sidwell.
"We are talking about wanting our players to play for Premier League teams and reproduce the football our teams use in the Premier League. But they don't have many English players and that is going to be a problem."
Hodgson also questioned how many lessons football's governing body could learn from sports such as cycling, canoeing and rowing, which have flourished over the summer. A questioner from his audience asked whether the training methods and "margins of difference" that Dave Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling, likes to talk about could offer pointers for those sports' footballing counterparts.
"I don't think there's a simple answer," Hodgson said. "The amount of coaching and preparation time that the cyclists, canoeists and rowers have had [is far different]. The preparation and build-up is enormous. It's a 10 to 12-year cycle. They set out a programme where their vision is for a few years ahead. In football you will never have that."
The appointment of Dan Ashworth as the FA's director of elite development will attempt to draw to an extent on the best practice of other sports, as the former West Bromwich sporting and technical director's new title suggests.
St George's Park, the new national football centre, is also being established with something of a "think tank" philosophy, with other sports encouraged to use the facility. Rugby union – a sport in which the flourishing of the Welsh national side has reflected the benefits of an elite performance programme – is involved at the site at Burton.
Hodgson has also asked the Premier League for more understanding when it comes to fixture scheduling. "It would be nice if, when we're playing on Friday, the top teams played on Saturday and not Sunday," he said. "Then on Monday we could do a bit of work and on Tuesday do some serious work. But every time the top clubs have played on Sunday and some at five o'clock on Sunday. If they're from Manchester and they've played in Southampton, they get back late at night then have to come down again."
The England manager also called for the introduction of a winter break to give the English season a more "logical" schedule. He said: "It would be lovely to think that one day we could all get together and say, 'England is important'. You hear people trying to say it's only the Premier League that counts and the Champions League, and people don't care about international football – something like 24 or 25 million watched our [Euro 2012] game against Italy.
"If you want to see the English desire to see a national team do well, you only have to go to the Olympics. It's Great Britain but you had 20,000 turning up to watch a handball game – let alone beach volleyball, but that's a different matter."
Of his own future as England manager, Hodgson said wryly: "I know I'll be vilified at some point but I hope when that vilification comes, somewhere down the line I'll get the redemption that [former manager] Bobby Robson had.
"You know when you take the job, you're dead. All you can hope is that you can enjoy that time on your death bed and that when you're resurrected a few years later, people say, 'You know, he wasn't that bad'."
Roy's scouting diary: Where to watch
Sat: Southampton v Aston Villa Lallana, Lambert; Agbonlahor, Bent
Sun: Liverpool v Man United Gerrard, Henderson, Johnson, Sterling; Carrick, Cleverley, Ferdinand, Welbeck, Young
Sun 29 Sep: Arsenal v Chelsea Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott; Cahill, Cole, Lampard, Sturridge, Terry
... and one game to avoid
Sat: Wigan v Fulham No potential England players on show
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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