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Ken Bates calls for cap change

Leeds chairman Ken Bates has revealed for the first time that, when he was a powerful member of the FA, he tried to implement a rule that international caps could only be awarded to players who took part in competitive games for at least 45 minutes.

Had that rule been adopted, former England captain David Beckham would not have made it into triple figures and would not be closing in on Peter Shilton's all-time record of 125 caps.

Bates, who once held a prominent position as the FA's Chairman of the Challenge Cup Committee, blames the then-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson for scuppering his plan, but still believes such a restrictive scheme needs to be brought in.

Bates told ESPN Soccernet: "In my opinion, Eriksson was handing out caps for players making five minute appearances, and it turned winning a cap into a meaningless award, when it should be something of immense meaning.

"When I was manager of Oldham, I had Jimmy McIlroy as my manager, and he used to play for Burnley and was an outstanding Irish international, with a record of 58 international caps. But that was achieved in our day when there were no friendlies to speak of, just competitive games. Jimmy Mack earned those 58 caps over 18 or 19 years.

"Now caps are handed out as rations! It cheapens the meaning of an international cap, and the FA need to do something about it. I tried when I was on the FA council and raised this point at an FA meeting.

"The FA, quite rightly, handed it over to their International Committee for consideration and they refused it. The International Committee decided that this was an issue for the manager. Really, the International Committee backed off. That, in my view, was a cop out.

"It never went through. Eriksson was the manager at the time. In my opinion Eriksson was a waste of space."

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