Leaders In Football: Dyke: Foreign Players 'Undermine' The English Game
FA Chair Greg Dyke claimed on Wednesday that the English game was being undermined by the influx of foreign players, saying the English game had become “a finishing school for the rest of the world.” Dyke also set out key principles which he believed the English game needed to adhere to should it flourish in years to come, saying, “In recent years it is the pace of change which has provided us with our biggest challenges.” In his role as FA chairman, Dyke has made one of his first priorities tackling the issue of the lack of Premier League players available to play for England. Figures reveal only about a third of top-flight footballers are eligible to play in the Premiership. Dyke, speaking Wednesday at the opening day of the Leaders in Football Summit in Chelsea, said, “In my first key speech as chairman, I set out what I believe to be the biggest immediate challenge to the English game, namely the shortage of English players playing regularly within the Premier League or other leading European leagues. My view is that this wasn’t helping the England team. And I agreed with the PFA when they said in quite a prescient report a few years earlier, 'What is at stake is not just the future of the England team but the fundamental right of English players to rise as far as their talent can take them.'"
FINISHING SCHOOL: Dyke went on to say, “That right is now denied. The truth is that we have become a finishing school for the rest of the world at the expense of our own players. I made it clear that day that I believe this was my No. 1 priority, and I was deliberately narrowed and focused in my analysis.” In his speech, Dyke laid out the key principles that he believes the English game needs to stick to going forward to sustain its popularity at all levels, in the face of stiff challenges such as the popularity of alternative sports, increased bureaucracy, and reduced Local Authority funding. These include maintaining the “universality of the game” so that there are strong links between all levels of the game, whether it is a game at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea, or playing in the park; that the top end of the game should support grassroots football; and to cherish the national and int'l game.
John Reynolds is a writer in London.