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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Sep 4, 2013

England decline must end - Dyke

New Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has issued a stark warning over the future of English football due to the falling number of English players in the Premier League.

Greg Dyke set out his vision for the future of the England team at a news conference last month.
Greg Dyke set out his vision for the future of the England team at a news conference last month.

This season has seen the proportion of Englishmen in the top division fall to a record low, while the percentage is also dropping in the Championship too.

Dyke wants to find a solution to the problem, and set England the target of reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and winning the 2022 World Cup in proposing sweeping changes to the domestic game.

He plans to set up a commission to examine the issues affecting the England team. The chairmen of the Professional Footballers' Association, the League Managers' Association and the Premier League will be invited, along with former England players and managers, journalists and academics. The work-permit application scheme and changes to the loan system will be considered.

"I know setting up a commission might be seen as a bureaucratic response to a serious problem but if we are to have any chance of success going forward it's important that football as a whole recognises the problem and also buys into the possible radical solutions," Dyke said.

Dyke believes the flood of foreign players has denied first-team opportunities for English players, which has had a knock-on effect for the national side.

He 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.

"Twenty-years ago 69% of all the players starting matches in the Premier League were qualified to play for England. Ten years later that figure was down to 38%. Last season, another 10 years on, the same figure was down to 32%.

"But we already know the problem is going to get worse in the future."

Dyke believes English football has not learned the lessons from a Professional Footballers' Association report in 2007 entitled 'Meltdown', which warned England had become a "finishing school for the rest of the world, at the expense of our own players".

"Since that report was produced in 2007 the problem has got worse, not better. Perhaps no-one in football was listening, maybe they didn't care or, most likely of all, they didn't know what to do about it," he said.

Dyke insisted that a solution must be found that works in tandem with the Premier League and that the FA must not "kill the golden goose in the search of the golden egg".

Dyke added: "English football, I think, is a tanker which needs turning. We have to do something. If we do not, it's hard to see England even challenging for the World Cup or the Euro Championships in the years ahead -- let alone meeting the targets I've set.

"If we do not, we will be letting down generations of English kids who might otherwise have made it at the top level in football but weren't given the chance. If we do not, we will be letting down the England fans who turn up in their thousands."

England have not reached the semi-finals of a major tournament since 1996, and were knocked out in the last-16 at the World Cup in South Africa after failing to qualify for Euro 2008. But Dyke believes that if the issues can be fixed then England can be successful again -- leading to him to suggest a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and winning the 2022 World Cup should not be an unrealistic target.

He said: "No doubt some will say these targets will burden the players with more pressure. I don't see it in that way. Top players must be able to handle pressure if they want to be winners. We want to be winners.

"We want to work hand in hand with the [Premier] League. If the best of our emerging young players can't get a game here, then we have a serious problem. In the future it's quite possible we won't have enough players qualified to play for England who are playing regularly at the highest level in this country or elsewhere in the world.

"As a result, it could well mean England's teams are unable to compete seriously on the world stage."

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