One of England’s most vocal detractors and Walkers’ very own golden wonder, Gary Lineker, has once again struck out at the FA by tweeting that the majority of its newly appointed members of the Football Association Commission are ‘utterly pointless’.
But are Greg Dyke’s selections a case of small – or more accurately misshapen – potatoes? Or has overlooking Lineker for a position simply left the ex-England striker with something of a chip on his shoulder?
After Dyke’s crack team of football men were revealed, many were underwhelmed and Lineker took to Twitter to express his dismay: “No wonder they announced Glen Hoddle early on @FA commission. Most of them are utterly pointless. Expected better from Greg Dyke.”
The purpose of the commission is reportedly to investigate the diminishing number of players eligible for the English national side among the country's elite clubs. This comes in the wake of some disheartening statistics provided by a ‘State of the Game’ study published by BBC Sport revealing less than a third (32.26%) of all Premier League players could qualify to play for England.
It’s been decided that a solution to the problem posed entails a major focus on developing the talent and opportunities of the country's young footballers, who too frequently miss out on playing time at their clubs in favour of players acquired from overseas.
As a result of his wording, it’s uncertain which among the eight partaking in the investigation named so far Lineker objects to. Speaking to the BBC, Danny Mills even responded by challenging him to name names or present his own ideas to the commission.
From later comments, though, it has become apparent Lineker shares what is quite a common deep seated suspicion of anyone filling these kinds of influential positions who haven't previously been a professional footballer, which is sometimes warranted, sometimes not. Many figures in the world of football are wary of those whose expertise is too heavily bogged down in the political side of things.
On Twitter, the Match of the Day host agreed with comments viewing the commission as “bureaucracy reviewing bureaucracy” and primarily listed ex-footballers such as “Barnes, Neville etc” among those he perceived more up to the task.
However, if this really is an issue, then five of the seven names listed – excluding Dyke himself – have previously graced pitches in a professional capacity, including Glen Hoddle (whom admittedly Lineker spared from his critique), Ritchie Humphreys, Howard Wilkinson, Dario Gradi and, of course, Mills.
These aren’t footballing icons, but looking more closely at some of the names reveals some signs of encouragement, while others just make sense.
In Ritchie Humphreys, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, Greg Clarke, Football League chairman, and Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers' Association, the commission contains representatives from most of the important football institutions in the country, which serve the game’s three integral aspects: players, managers and the league. As follows, this is always going to be useful for an investigation into the state of football in the country.
The only one you’d point out missing is Anthony Fry, Chairman of Premier League, who reportedly refused the invitation but did promise his utmost cooperation. It is perhaps understandable that Fry wouldn’t want to be involved in an official capacity, though, given it might be too compromising to publicly agree the Premier League's lack of Englishmen is a certifiable shortcoming.
Meanwhile, Danny Mills, one of the ex-players among the list, is potentially also one of the least tenable selections for the commission, though one Greg Dyke insists has a key role according to the Guardian and earned his place through submitting a “very interesting paper” with good ideas.
If the aim of the commission is to enhance the prospects and abilities of England's youngsters though, perhaps Dario Gradi, who runs the academy at Crewe Alexandra F.C, is the most heartening selection. The League One club made a big statement in fielding a team comprising players who came up through the academy against Walsall for last season’s final game, which they won 2-0, and “should have been over the back pages of every newspaper for what they did at [Wallsall]” according to Sky sports and ex-United fullback Gary Neville, himself a product of the much celebrated academy at Manchester United.
Ultimately, in order to address the issue of obstructed England-qualified youngsters you’d think certain changes in the infrastructure of all levels of football in the country need be implemented, for which persons Lineker might label ‘bureaucrats’ could be more equipped what with employment law and all that boring off-the-pitch stuff that’s usually involved.
All this in mind, Dyke’s selections seem quite pointful, actually. Football Association Commission, assemble.
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