By Tony Attwood
First the (perhaps) good news. Greg Dyke of the FA has said the FA was “100 per cent behind” the introduction of video technology to help referees.
Trouble is, the reputation of the FA is now so low that having them on your side could be more of a hinderance than a help. Taking a look at their latest endeavour, makes this clear.
The success of any football nation in international football depends primarily on one thing: the number of players the country has per qualified coach. The players per coach the worse you do.
The fairly simple research that established this was first published in Untold in 2010 and has since been republished (without acknowledgement) in the Daily Telegraph in August 2013.
You’d think that the FA might have grasped this fact by now – how well your country does has nothing to do with artificial rules and regulations, where the players play, how many top clubs you have in your country or anything else.
If it did then the most successful countries, from Germany to the Netherlands would be awash with artificial rules controlling who could play.
But no, Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, now wants to change the rules in England to remove the “grim picture” for young English players. He could do it by reducing the costs of training up coaches in England, except the FA are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy so he won’t.
The other problem is that the FA, having had funding withdrawn from Sport England for gross incompetence, and having put out a plan for a new set of 3G pitches for young players (which has now been abandoned because of lack of any sort of funding) and being committed to taking money from fast food chain McDonald’s now, is running out of headline grabbing excuses.
So in short, muddle, mess, incompetence and taking funding from a fast food chain are the order of the day, and the only way the FA have of getting out of it is to come up with more half baked ideas.
The latest proposal is to up the number of home grown players and say that the player has to have been on the books of an English or Welsh club for three years before turning 18, rather than before they are 21.
Players can’t sign for overseas clubs until they are 18 unless the family has moved for employment or family reunification reasons. (The club can’t move the family in and then give one of them a job as a cleaner – they must have the job first). This is the rule that Barcelona broke and which resulted in its ban from transferring, and the one that the President of Barce ignores when doing his PR stunt of trying to explain away the horrors of the child exploitation programme his club has run for years.
Now the FA claims it has agreed new visa rules with the Home Office in the UK and Dyke says that 42 non-EU players would have been prevented from getting work permits over the past five years. However Gabriel Paulista, who joined without having played for Brazil, would still have been approved owing to his experience in La Liga.
And how would that make things better?
Ah, that’s the question, and there is no explanation, because there is no evidence and indeed all the evidence there is points the other way. Look for speeches that say, “Germany is successful internationally because it has artificial rules like this,” and all you will hear is silence.
So Dyke goes round talking about the fact that only 22% of those who started matches for Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United this season are qualified to play for England, and turns that into an explanation for international failure. It is a bit like saying that the countries that win the world cup don’t have English as their national tongue, and so all our players must learn Foreign. The first part of the statement is true, but there is no connection with the second.
The FA also tell us that only 23 English players appeared in the Champions League group stage compared with 78 Spanish players, 55 German players and 51 Brazilian players.
And why? Because the youngsters don’t get coached properly. They are often coached by amateurs with no training and so no qualification, and as a result the players lose their way.
But this is the English tradition. Muddled amateurism. The instant pundit who knows and talks a lot. We elect them as political leaders, we raise them up as heros, and put them in charge of economic policy when they have never worked in economics. (Indeed when it comes to teaching British values in schools, as teachers now have to do in England, I think “muddled amateurism” ought to be the first value taught.)
Now the Premier League can put a stop to the childishness of Dyke by voting against it. They and the Football League stopped Greg’s last idea (the B teams playing in the Football League) and will presumably do the same again. His other plan (that the reserves of Premier League teams can play in the Johnstone’s Paint trophy) is still on the table. But then Arsenal often do this anyway in the League Cup.
At the moment the to be “under 21” for the 2015-2016 season, a player must be born on or after 1 January 1, 1994.
So who are Arsenal’s qualifying players?
- Francis Coquelin
- Kieran Gibbs
- Damian Martinez
- Aaron Ramsey
- Wojciech Szczesny
- Theo Walcott
- Danny Welbeck
- Jack Wilshere
Others who (as far as I can tell) will come into this group when they pass the qualifying age requirement are
- Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
- Calum Chambers
- Serge Gnabry
- Gedio Zelalem
- Chuba Akpom
- Hector Bellerin
- Isaac Hayden
- Ainsley Maitland Niles
And from the loan group (again correct me if I’ve got any wrong)
- Carl Jenkinson
- Ryo Miyaichi
- Jon Toral
But now let’s turn to the issue of who the FA want us to emulate. Who has produced the most top-flight players from its own academy in recent seasons? Well, the answer is… Barcelona.
And they have done it by flouting EU and Fifa regulations and allowing two types of transfer from without the EU. First they allow families to travel into the EU to be with the children that Barcelona sign. Which is not clever given that the child might well fail to make the grade, and if the family has no job between them, and no local language skills, they are then destitute.
Second, by allowing agents to present children to them without the parents being present. If Barcelona turn the children down, they are in a foreign country, abandoned by their “agent” (who is in essence a child trafficker), and destitute on the streets.
If we look at the top clubs who have the most home-grown players in their first team squads at the moment we have
1. Athletic Bilbao – 16
2. Barcelona – 14
3. Real Sociedad – 14
Now we can see how Barcelona do it – by flouting the laws and having no moral responsibility for the families or children who are brought to the club but then don’t make it. Bilbao and Sociedad do it by having policies which mean they only recruit from the Basque region. Which works ok if one wants to promote existing strong nationalist and regionalist tendencies.
So it is, in my view, another crazy bit of tripe from the FA. Sadly the press will probably latch on it without thought, and will believe that the failure of England at international level is due to the Premier League and not due to the abject failure of the FA to produce vast numbers of qualified coaches.
But that is what you get with the press. They never ask “why?”
Anniversary of the day – this isn’t the only season we’ve been on a good run….
24 March 2012: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0. 7th consecutive win during which Arsenal scored 21 goals.
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption