FA Proposals: On Yer Bike, Greg Dyke!

Published: May 09, 2014 11:30am EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated May 09, 2014 @ 11:30am EDT


No one can argue that the Premier League is one of the richest soccer leagues in the world. Yet all those riches do not transfer into the success of the English National team, who have only won one major tournament since the World Cups started in 1938 and the Euro’s started in 1960. 
Yesterday the FA Chairman Greg Dyke outlined a few details which he says would start the ball rolling toward improving the fortunes of the English National team. I think it is fair to say that a large proportion of people reacted negatively to the proposals including the current non league teams, who may now find yet another league for them to leap in order to get into the top four tiers.

In a basic outline it has been proposed that another league is installed just above the Conference division (non league) and the current SkyBet League Two and will be made up of Premiership ‘B’ teams. Added to that there has been a call for a ban on non European Union players outside of the top flight, the development of strategic loan partnerships between clubs and reduction of non homegrown players in the Premier League. 



So there were two points that were quite similar and that was the reduction of non homegrown players in the Premier League along with the ban on non European union players outside the Premiership sounds good but is it really workable? 

Certainly you can put in an obligatory number of homegrown players needed in each Premiership squad but that doesn’t mean they will get games. The fact that they are named as part of a Premiership squad may then mean that they do not have any chance of going on loan somewhere else where they would get games, and so that would basically force a club to pick its best homegrown stars, just in case they were needed, and then not use them. 

As for the Non European players being banned from leagues below the top flight? What is to be done with teams getting relegated? For example, if the rules were in effect now then Cardiff would have to sell, sack or just get rid of Kenwyne Jones, Gary Medel, Bo-Kyung and Fabio at least along with their Icelandic and Norwegian players, and possibly even the Scottish in future if the vote for independence is yes but entry to the EU is no! Eight players from their current squad will not be allowed to play for the side in the lower division, and the club itself isn’t even English!

Fulham would be hit just as hard as Cardiff with the London side also losing another eight players. I understand that these rules will not come in to effect overnight but the danger is that a Premiership club could get relegated and then be forced to shift their Non EU stars. That would mean the vultures would swoop on the side as lower bids can be put in by an interested club knowing the player must leave. 



So, as I understand it, a Premiership or Championship side would be able to loan up to eight players to a single club in a lower league. How would that make a side partnered with a top four club on an equal footing with a side in their division in a partnership with, say, Blackpool? Then what happens when sides with a strategic loan partnership meet each other in either a cup game or if they end up in the same league eventually?

To me, on the face of it, things just look with this proposal that things are not designed for it to stay an even playing field. I am not sure what is wrong with the loan system as it is right now. Joe Hart, Manchester City goalkeeper, was loaned to a lower club before taking over both the England and Manchester City number one shirt. 



The tradition of English League football is under threat, in my eyes, with this proposal. It has been denied but we all know that if a tier of football is placed between the non League and the League then Premiership sides will fill that with potential representatives of National U-21 sides. Teams coming up into the League from the conference will almost certainly struggle in this league with the fact that the Premiership sides will just have too many resources to throw at their ‘B’ team if it was to start struggling. 

Yes they have this structure in Spain and Germany but what they don’t have is the attendance numbers the lower leagues get nor the excitement of the FA Cup, which non league teams and lower league sides may struggle to get far in if their weekly games involve Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool ‘B’ teams. 

I understand the argument given for this is that the percentage of English players in the Premiership right now. However I am a firm believer in the fact that the better the competition the better the participants and so I would argue that if we want to see more English players in the Premier League then all these proposals are great. However if we want to see more English players in the Premier League of a higher quality then we need to start at the grass roots level. To be fair the FA will release details of their grass root program later but that just seems backwards to me. 

Spain may have the B team’s in Leagues but they also have high quality coaches and infrastructure all throughout the various levels. Let me make this statistic very clear, and if you remember nothing else, remember this. Spain has almost 24,000 coaches who hold UEFA’s B, A and Pro badges. Italy have just over 29k and Germany has 35k. In England do you know what the numbers are? 3,000. Maybe the FA should look at getting more high quality coaches at all levels before they take a dump on the non league clubs and foreign players.



So, forgetting the fact that the foreigners in the Premiership is primarily blamed for the lack of English youngsters getting a chance and now the Premiership clubs are rewarded with another team in a B league plus essentially a third team with the strategic loan scheme. Forget that for a second, this whole FA proposal is typically English.

The Premiership was started a few years after the 1990 World Cup in Italy. In all of those World Cups prior to the start of the Premier League do you know how many competitions England actually won? One! Other than that one win, do you know how many World Cup Semi Finals the England National Team took part in? One. The first three World Cups the FA didn’t even enter a side because they thought is was beneath them, due to the fact that England invented the sport. That is the same arrogance being displayed now over 80 years on with the suggestion that the English game is being hampered and it cannot possibly be our fault.

Fourteen World Cups prior to the Premier League and only one World Cup win, didn’t enter for the early tournaments and didn’t even qualify for the 1974 and 1978 competitions. You might think that maybe the Euros held more success for the side but no. Started in 1960 the Euro’s were without England five times in the nine competitions up until the start of the Premier League. Prior to the start of the Premiership the highest England finished was 3rd, in 1968.

Since the Premiership England have been to all but one of the five subsequent tournaments, with two Quarter Final finishes and one Semi Final finish. Similar can be said of the World Cup and other than 1994 England have qualified for all World Cups and have qualified out of the groups in all.

In 1998 England were level with Argentina but lost on penalties (after David Beckham had been sent off for a kick). 2002 Brazil knocked out the England side after initially taking the lead and the following tournament saw England once again go out on penalties to Portugal, once again England’s ‘best player’ was red carded for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. 2010 they just limped through the group stages before being spanked by Germany. So you could argue that, baring in mind the increased number of teams participating in the World Cup now, that England has actually improved since the start of the Premiership. Controversial I know!

Ex England defender and part of the committee for this FA proposal has said that expectations going into this World Cup is the lowest it has ever been. Personally I think being happy to get out of the Group Stage is actually a display of a more realistic expectation. Don't forget which English fan did the 'cut throat' gesture when the groups were being announced, that's right Greg Dyke himself. 

Having more discipline in heated and tense situations and dealing with the showmanship of some other nations to wind up the players is what needs to be taught, and that can only be through playing different nationalities week in and week out. I would argue that the Premiership has been a great vehicle to show the quality of English football players and unfortunately the cracks in the grass roots level have been exposed. 

I remember as a young boy going to watch the local reserve team play on a Friday night in a reserve league. Some talented young players would be in the team and some first team players getting ‘match sharpness’ back were there. That is the system that needs to be brought back and will do the job of getting competitive games into youth and put them up against some seasoned professionals. It is clear that things need to change in England if the National team are to seriously go to competitions and compete but a detrimental move on the non league sides is not the way. Get more quality coaches in the youth game, improve the pitches they play on, bring back a reserve league to run alongside the current League structure and for goodness sake don’t skip penalty practice day!    


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Jason Bardwell
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