Dyke of the FA: foreign players are ruining England's chances
Proportion of English players in top club line-ups has fallen from 69% in 1992 to 32% today
WHEN Greg Dyke became director-general of the BBC in 2000 he famously told the Corporation to "cut the crap", a reference to its layers of bureaucracy. Now Dyke is the chairman of the Football Association and yesterday he declared in his maiden speech that English football needs to cut the foreigners in its ranks if it wants to develop enough home-grown stars to "compete seriously on the world stage".
Speaking at a lunch organised by the England sponsor Vauxhall, and just two days before the Three Lions play the first of two crucial World Cup qualifiers, Dyke warned that the problem posed by the rising number of foreigners in the English game is "serious, very serious."
To illustrate his point, Dyke quoted statistics showing that the proportion of English players in the starting line-ups of top-flight clubs had plummeted from 69 per cent in 1992, when the Premier League was launched, to 32 per cent today.
And it's getting worse, he said. In the last two seasons the proportion of English-qualified players owned by Premier League clubs had fallen from 37 per cent to 25 per cent.
"Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes," Dyke said. "Taking into account that some of these players are not of international standard, I think it's fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it's getting smaller."
Dyke, who took on the role of FA chairman in June, admitted that quoting such statistics was "easy" but actually finding solutions was the tricky part.
As he acknowledged, he's not the first to despair at the number of foreigners flooding the English game. In 2007, the Professional Footballers Association published a report entitled Meltdown, in which it warned that the Premier League had become "a finishing school for the rest of the world, at the expense of our own players".
Dyke admitted the situation is far worse now than it was then and that if the problem isn't addressed the England national team will suffer the consequences.
"English football - and in this context I mean football played by Englishmen - has got a problem which is much bigger than just not doing well in a couple of tournaments," Dyke said. "As I've said, England is already short of players who regularly turn out at the top level for their clubs and are qualified to play for England - but the real problem is that, year by year, the position is getting worse."
Dyke wants the Premier League and Football Association to work together for the good of the Three Lions but he may have a long time to wait.
Premier League clubs, most of which are owned and managed by foreigners, have little interest in working with Dyke "for us to win the World Cup in 2022". Indeed, in recent seasons managers such as Arsene Wenger and the recently retired Alex Ferguson have expressed their irritation at the way international matches interfere with the club season in England.
Dyke resigned after four years as DG of the BBC over what he called an "error of judgment" laid bare in the Hutton Report. Imagining that Premier League managers and owners want to help the Three Lions would seem to be another one. ·