FA applies UKIP approach to football.

By Tony Attwood

The Football Association is determined to be, well, that slightly bit odd, in its thinking.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you ran the FA and were concerned that in recent tournaments both the English national team and the under 21s team had been knocked out of the big event in the group stages with pretty poor results.

To wit: 2014 was the first time England were knocked out in the group stages of the world cup since 1958 and the first time they have been eliminated after just two matches.

In the 2013 under 21 competition – in case you don’t follow that – England also qualified and also went out in the group stages.  Here is the table

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Italy 3 2 1 0 6 1 +5 7
 Norway 3 1 2 0 6 4 +2 5
 Israel 3 1 1 1 3 6 −3 4
 England 3 0 0 3 1 5 −4 0

So fairly feeble stuff, which raises the question, what is to be done.

The answer from all the statistical analysis is clear – you bring in more professionally highly qualified coaches.  That is what countries like the Netherlands has done in order to do far better than England in tournaments with a much smaller population and very few players playing in their own country.

And England’s response?

The FA want to make it harder for non-EU citizens to play football in England.

The source of this wonderful revelatory view is Greg Dyke, who wrote the FA Commission report last year which said that the FA were going to build loads and loads of pitches for grassroots football, and had drawn up the plans and… were now waiting for someone to stump up the money (the FA having spent all theirs on servicing the debt incurred in building Wembley).

For a non-EU citizen to play in the UK he has to play internationally from a country ranked in the top 70 and have played in 75 per cent of the internationals in the last two years.  But players and clubs can appeal, and by and large many appeals get through an appeals process run by….

well, now, who?

Oh.  The FA.

It seems that the FA has been handing out work visas willy nilly and NOW THEY WANT IT TO STOP.  So, presumably, they are telling themselves to stop it.

They cite the Croatia international Andrej Kramaric, whom Leicester City have bought.  He has played four times by his country, and so didn’t qualify for automatic entry (Croatia although part of the EU does not have open access to the UK).  So the FA heard the appeal, and gave him a visa.   And now the FA says, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

It is so hilarious you can almost hear Dyke talking to himself.

In an interview Dyke described the appeals process that he is in charge of as “a bit of a farce”. The success rate at appeal is 79 per cent.

The new approach will reduce the number of internationals that the player must play in to 30 per cent, but the player must come from a country ranked in the top 50 by Fifa, or cost over £10m.

The FA argue that some players coming in are “mediocre” and cost just £2m and £3m, and block the progress of academy players into the first-team squad.

But this doesn’t make sense.  If mediocre players are better than EU national academy players, then the EU national academy players must be sub-mediocre.  How will letting sub-mediocre players play in the Premier League help England under 21s score more than one goal in the next tourney?

The fact is that if a club can find an EU player to do the job, it does so.  It doesn’t buy in a player from overseas, just for the hell of it.

Besides, when WBA bought Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kiev for £10m he was not a member of the Nigeria World Cup squad.  But he cost £10m so would qualify anyway.

And what will the clubs do?  Pay the £10m, in installments, and then have private agreements to cease payments if the player fails to establish himself in the first team – that seems the most likely.

It is one of the most extraordinarily bizarre conceptions from the FA of all time, from a man who has now so lost it that he is reduced to finding a new initiative each month, no matter how barmy, just to justify his job, and hide his disasterous cock-ups over the Sport England funding, grassroots football and by and large anything else anyone allows the FA to get its grubby little hands on.

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28 Replies to “FA applies UKIP approach to football.”

  1. The FA want to make it harder for non-EU citizens to play football in England.
    And quite right too.Having less foreigners playing football in this country can only be good efect for the english game..There is then more chance of an english youngster being given the chance to progress .

  2. The coaching aspect is a different matter.The F.A are pricing out youngsters and adults who want to be coaches.Rather than having to pay £500 to go on a level 2 course( and whatever you lose in wages for going on the 5 day course)why do the F.A not subsidise them and charge say £100.That way we can get so many more coaches in the game teaching youngsters the basics.

  3. The F.A. are in a cleft stick they need to develop English players but don’t know how to do it. The problem is the gap between junior football and adult. They need to redevelop a proper reserve league where the young ones can step up and play against adultsome in their own club environment

  4. The FA should “normalize” itself by dealing harshly with the Stoke thug, as AW has gone as far as he will toward that end, but no further (perhaps understandably) as per this quote on Debuchy’s forced shoulder operation. When asked about disciplining the thug, this is reported:
    “Wenger added: “I don’t know. I just think that Arnautovic had no chance to get the ball. That’s what I mean. I don’t think it was malicious but it was not needed because he had no chance to get the ball.
    “I am not a specialist and these subjects are always very sensitive because I don’t really know what his intention was. It is difficult. It is not obvious. I don’t think he wanted to hurt him but it was not needed.”

  5. Micko

    A couple of tweets ridiculing Ginola for not being able to answer journalistic questions from James Pearce and Rob Harris … just tweeted them back to ask why Mike Riley and Howard Webb don’t get difficult questions from the press … still awaiting a reply … 😉

  6. p.s. Does it have to be proven intentional? Isn’t reckless endangerment causing 3 months out and millions spent on a replacement enough for the FA to do what is “normal”? Rules anyone?

  7. Perhaps if the FA read Untold they might get some ideas on the sensible route forward – but to briefly summarize: –

    The number of coaches is inadequate, the encouragement of young people to play sport in general and football in particular seems to be declining – this trend needs to be reversed.

    The catchment of young players into the game through schools and junior leagues also seems haphazard – there is room for a lot of improvement.

    And, at the top level the game is being ruined by totally incompetent refereeing – and who is partially responsible for the incompetent PGMO – oh yes – the FA!

  8. Bob

    Funny isn’t it, we play all these big pressure games against United, Chelsea, Spurs, City, Liverpool, etc, etc every year without much of a problem … yet time and again we play Stoke and they “accidentally” and without intention put Arsenal players out of action for months at a time … it is, in the words of Blackadder, “a most perplexing mystery” ….

  9. What the FA need to do is go cap in hand to Arsene and say something along the lines of, “please Mr Wenger I know we have treated you and your club disgracefully over the last umpteen years but we have gotten ourselves into quite a bit of a pickle and just don’t know what to do, could you please direct us on how to nurture talent, maybe explain to us how to coach young kids and get the best out of their abilities, or even just nudge us into the right direction on where to begin correcting some of the abysmal decisions we have made in the past, please help us Mr Wenger sir, you’re our only hope…
    Something along those lines would be a start.

  10. @ob1977
    January 16, 2015 at 11:13 am

    and add to your well put post…and teach us pretty please how we can sustain such a project within our means of income. TA!! 🙂 😉

  11. @bjtgooner
    Its not just the FA to blame, it goes further than that. Take my local area as an example, Crawley, West Sussex. Up till five or so years ago a thriving local football league with 3 divisions. In 2010 Crawley Council increased the rents of the pitches by so much the league disbanded as the clubs were not able to meet their demands. Now some of the playing fields are being built on or are earmarked for building on as the Council claim they are not being used, surprise, surprise. The Council have been put under pressure by the Government to provide a certain number of new houses which of course meant they had to find the land to put them on, hence the playing field trick at the expense of local football.

  12. Why go to AW for advice, Southampton FC are doing a great job with their academy. Pick their coaches.

  13. @mick

    I have come across similar situations elsewhere – sometimes arising from something simple – the chief organizer for youth teams in an area retires or moves away and no one else can be bothered to step up. But I agree re councils – quite a lot don’t seem to put enough effort in.

    The people who should be providing the nationwide blueprint and encouraging the game at all levels i.e. the FA – are giving a very good impression of doing sweet FA!

  14. Nick Lee I agre with you totally. But the reason it is not subsidised is that almost all the FA money goes on paying the interest owing to the banks on Wembley

  15. That the FA spent upwards of three times the sum on their new stadium when compared to another project over in North London built at the same time. I do not believe that it is appropriate to blame Jonny Foreigner for the lack of investment at the grass roots level. As any grass roots volunteer could tell you. Or me!

    What is interesting is that this mark up reflects the discrepency for transfer fees paid by AFC and some of hteir rivals. The mark up is extreme! Fortunately, unlike some people signing off the checks in N17 “Wenger knows the market” better then most, if all. The evidence is quite strong. Larceny, stupidity, the way things are and were: whatever it is, it is right there in front of us all, hard to miss that giant stadium whose cost is still probably unknown or incalculable?

    Of course genius’ such as “Nick Lee” above will fall for the PR genius’ gr*t hook line and sinker. Yet we note that in the last fifty odd years that England have not been the best football team in the world, and this circumstance arose long before the evolution of the PL. That is not an opinion, it is the record. Truth is that outside of certain pockets or regions, there is not much coaching coverage, which is why in the modern era the Dutch FA, The French FA the Spanish FA, the German FA invested in facilities and coaches over the last two to three decades, not forgetting the community programmes etc. Not surprisngly they churn out far more players at the top level…nothing to do with Jonny F, but everything to do with infrastucture and coaching!

    I’m sure the head of UKIP, the stockbroking son of a stockbroker is very focussed on improving wages for the average working man and woman *coughs up some unpleasant phlem*. I believe the technical term used to describe Dyke’s charade is:

    “Smoke and Mirrors” 😉

  16. The Arnautovic push might have been the best intentioned but it was a foul & caused injury and the FA have to deal with it. Moss may have seen it but did not treat it correctly. So either Moss gets sent down or Arnautovic gets banned.

    Dyke & Riley can get their hands into their pockets & pay for some facilities for coaching kids but please do not teach them how to officiate!!!! We will end up screwed for the next 50 years.

  17. Nick Lee – get your Cricket team sorted first. There are more non English players there than in Football.

  18. By all accounts we have a shortage of British bricklayers in this Country, I kid you not.

    The shortfall is being taken up by importing foreign tradesmen with the requisite skills.

    The question is how to we stem the flow of Foreign bricklayers into the Country and get the natives back building our houses?

    1)Set up apprenticeships to meet the short fall?

    2)Ban foreign bricklayers?

    The answer is so obvious it is ridiculous, yet some would have you believe that banning foreign bricklayers and accepting substandard workmanship is the way to go.

    Honestly, you better hope some on here are not overseeing the building of your extension.

    Mind boggling.

  19. In England it is quite difficult for a privately educated boy to carry on playing club football much beyond the age of 11 – as most club matches take place on Saturdays, as do school fixtures. This is not the case in sports like Rugby, Hockey, Cricket or Athletics, who arguably have had more success in recent years than the English football team.

  20. There are 2 basic types of football. Regimented or free flow. The regimented is like that of Germany & partially like that of Holland. Regimented football has reasonably strict rules of passing and playing individuals as a team. In other words the team is priority. The Free flow is Brazil or African. The individual has priority & can transcend the team. It is all a matter of how the coaches train the youth that directs players into one system or the other. The South American & African system is driven by the barefoot techniques that gives individuals more skill and creates the individual superiority. In England generally the skill is killed early as the physical dopes always get the skillful players injured, Arise Sir Fuckedup Riley! Techniques in football are part of individual skill but can be taught. The use of the foot to control flight & trajectory is a skill that can be taught & practiced. The skill of close ball control & retention can also be learned with practice. The use of such skills need to be protected by officiating. It is easy to ‘kick’ the skilled player out of the game. Resilience as showed by Alexis comes with risk.

    England’s shortfall is the racist attitude in officiating & selection in youth teams. There is an unbalanced influence right through the heart of the game in England, from ownership through officiating to amateur level football. The whole football scene needs to be freed from current controls so that young players have no fear of injury by ‘bigger’ players.

    It is in the early stages of learning the game that good practice needs to be implemented. Respect for elders, respect for opponents, respect for teammates and respect for the Laws of the Game. That will bring respect for officials. Addressing the referee as Sir. Accepting decisions made by the officials. Transparency of decision making by the officials – telling the players why a decision is made. Allowing post match argument & discussion to clarify Law interpretation. It will clear the Law for both player & official.

    There’s a lot more that needs to be explained but bricklaying does not get anywhere near the wall that needs to be climbed for football success in England.

  21. In order to improve grass roots/childrens’ football the following needs to happen:
    – Get many, many more coaches qualified to a much higher level.
    – Increase availability of both grass and astroturf facilities.
    – Reduce the cost to the player/parents.

    All these cost money.

    The easiest, and most important one, to fix is the coaching. The FA should heavily subsidise the cost of coaching courses.

    The latter two can be addressed by building lots of pitches and then renting them out at a cheap cost. However municipalities in the UK have a very different ethos to many of those in continental Europe.

    I volunteer in grass roots football – and the problems and the solutions really are that straightforward. There is still a huge enthusiasm amongst the youth of this country to play football. But we are not offering it cheaply, we do not have sufficient (or decent) facilities and we don’t coach them properly.

    Even at the weekend, I witnessed the manager of my son’s opponents (who had lost) absolutely berating his team after the game. And the language was filthy. If I was a parent of a child in that squad I would have pulled him out. But this is not uncommon, sadly.

    Foreverheady – nearly all youth League football (in my region anyway) is on Sunday mornings – precisely so as to avoid clashing with school sport. More split at primary level between Sat/Sun – but almost all Leagues are Sunday morning at secondary.

  22. Menace @ 3.07

    Perhaps the crows do not desire to officiate games in an improved environment?

    Perhaps the vision that the PGMO have for their understanding of Football, for their “Game Management” is not what we saw from Germany this summer, but what we see going on in Scotland? More accurately upon the site of the club once known as Glasgow Rangers.

  23. One of the issues is the cost of players in relationship to the quality. And English players are priced to high in relationship to the quality. Thus the clubs have to bring in more non-English players to stay competitive.

    Another issue is that current officiating does not protect skillful players (Walcott, Wilshere are examples of this.) But this reflects a deeper strand of attitude in England that rewards the brute force type player in the early years more than the skillful creative ones. When you play long ball -kick and run- then the skills for defensive and offensive players are selected for that style of play (big, strong, fast and aggressive). But it has been clearly demonstrated that this style of play does not work at the highest levels (if can often work at youth levels). So when England has been playing long ball at the youth level and selecting players for that style, England is not going to do well internationally. Not every English club in the youth system is playing long ball – kick and run style but this does seem to be the most common style.

    Another issue is that professional sport is not very attractive career option compared to other options in England. Kids that have potential have other options. In some countries kids with potential don’t have many other options that are attractive.

  24. I’d like to mention the German recipe for success again. They had gone through a crisis (not so much in World Cup as much in EURO – they had failed to win a single match in 2000 and 2004) before they decided to change things from the square one. They took the page out of the Spanish book and assigned Matthias Sammer to coordinate the work in all youth categories. They have put an accent on the passing game and made a scientific approach in order to speed up their game and to reduce the time needed for a pass. They had reached 1,6 seconds three or four years ago and set their goal at below a second for a pass. This approach was set for all their categories. On the other hand, England haven’t addressed on-going issues with goalkeepers. When will England have a goalkeeper capable of playing football like Neuer or even Victor Valdes? Or winning the penalty-shootout like Seaman did against Spain in 1996? Then, there is a question about the midfield. When will England have a midfielder capable of thinking outside the box like Pirlo, Pjanic…? Yes, you can’t teach talent but you can encourage it and nurture it. Of course, you can’t nurture talented players if you allow Stoke and other rugby-rejects to play football unpunished. You have to interprete the rules of football game in order to favour talented players. And that’s where the UKIP-esque approach really lies. FA and PGMO don’t want to change “traditional English football by the evil foreigners”. They want to keep “the traditional values of English football, Crouches and Shawcrosses over Ozils and Debuchies”.

  25. In this Country we have ONE thing to hang on to that we ‘think’ we are still the masters of:

    Being ‘hard as nails’ !!!!

    And that’s it.

    Up until recent history we still managed to clutch a couple of meagre straws in the shape of the No 9’s and the No 1’s, now even those small crumbs of comfort have gone.

    What are we left with……Kicking players off the park !! And that’s it.

    I even get the impression the media love it when a talented player gets a ‘lesson’ on ‘what the games all about’ from the Shawcrosses of this World.

    They don’t like it ‘up ’em’ those wimpy foreigners !!

    What I didn’t envisage was the deep joy they still seem to get out of it when the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Theo et el get ‘put in there place’.

    What do they expect, trying all that ‘Fancy Dan’ passing the ball nonsense !

    Sad, Pathetic, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of it.

    What the fuck.

  26. I get the whole nationalistic rise in Europe, and the UK especially. But to be good at Football, you have to treat it like it is your only avenue or choice of success in life. It is not surprising that very few football players come from wealthy or middle class families. If England is going to get better at football. It will have to embrace its immigrant populations like Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal. These teams have done a better job of not just grassroots investment but they have embraced their immigrant populations. They have not tried stupid myopic, or foolish ideas like limit Johnny foreigner. Instead these countries have turned to them, and tried to assimilate and make them part of the national team setup. This allows players like Ozil, Podolski, Boateng to develop, and eventually choose Germany over their native lands where they have guaranteed opportunities to start for the countries of their parents birth. The sooner England wakes up, and starts courting this group, the better they will get at football. Unfortunately these rules seem to be pushing these players away, and soon these players might start opting away from the premiership which would have dire consequences in the European competitions.

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