Greg Dyke needs to remove focus on foreign imports

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The state of English football is like an allegory of the state of Britain along with the country's economy and media. After all, football is just one of many industries within the UK. Like all industries it has its big dogs and those at the bottom of the pond.

At the top, you have Waitrose and Tesco, clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. All these clubs have been through financial difficulty and have been in massive debt and yet have stayed at the top.

At the bottom, you have poor old Woolworths and JJB Sports, clubs like Wimbledon FC, Hereford United and Chester City. All of which have now dissolved and become so called "phoenix" clubs.

Managing debt

Despite being in debts millions deeper than these sides forced into liquidation, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd have managed to not only stay afloat, but to stay competitive. This can be done in a few ways.

Arsenal chose good budgeting and great management, Liverpool got bought by a new owner and, while Manchester United haven't got over their debt, they just rely on their worldwide franchise to continue the payments.

However, some clubs don't have the gift of a franchise, incredibly sharp manager or lucky takeover. Some, like Portsmouth, get taken over by their fans after a string of awful chairmen. When you look to Germany (where, economically, they seem to do everything right these days), fans have a stake in every club. There's certainly an argument for that in the UK, especially after the decline and rebirth of Glasgow Rangers.

Blame the foreigners?

We do have to also look at the media's influence, in particular the BBC and Sky Sports. As the BBC operate under agreement with the government and Sky are run by Rupert Murdoch, certainly they won't be trying to take money out of football - and after Greg Dyke's recent comments on foreign players, it seems the FA aren't going to do so either.

So pushing the blame on foreign imports is the easy move, as this is not an issue that actually needs fixing as far as they're aware. The FA just need to seem like they're going to do something. Hence why, when the media told them to, they increased funding in grass roots football, by a very small amount, but it made the media go away nevertheless.

Of course they ignore the lack of funding to lower leagues (kind of like the cutting of benefits to those who need it). Funding the lower leagues allows for more youth coaching at all levels - this means that even if it doesn't improve the Premier League immediately, the overall level of football in the country will improve and eventually that will have an impact on the top-flight.

Compare this to benefits. By giving money to those who need it to live, you also give them some spending room. They spend this money, which will eventually profit all of society.

Some say that if you increase funding to lower league clubs, that club will just invest it in wages and player fees. However, any well run club knows that if you make a player worthy of playing for Chelsea or Man City that you will profit more.


Also, the FA can tell the club this is for youth development. In economics, this would be known as subsidising a business, although instead of coming from the government, it comes from football's government - the FA.

Now yes, this money doesn't come from nowhere, but if you take a tiny bit off the top teams (who wouldn't miss £1/2 million each) then you can add that to the total. Similarly, when a government subsidise a business, they want that business to succeed, similarly, the FA would be gaining something by doing this and it would not be a handout for no reason.

To add to this, they ignore that coaching of lower league clubs and grass roots football is far inferior to that of Germany. Think of it as a bit like spending on education. They ignore us being fed unhealthy foods - fast foods, own brands, "instant" foods, etc. A bit like cutting the NHS.

This is more obvious. Although this isn't the biggest issue in football and it is ultimately down to the athlete. In Germany there is more food and health education at the smaller clubs. Obviously teams like Chelsea can afford fitness coaches and specialists but most smaller clubs can't. This of course isn't just football's issue; health is something that in the UK is not taught enough at school level.

They ignore that the top 4/5 clubs have a massive monopoly over buying the young talent in the country, not giving them their chances, even if it means breaking the laws. A bit like big businesses like Apple, Google and Starbucks don't pay tax and break the rules to enforce their own monopolies.

Questionable recruitment

If you look at the way Chelsea and other big clubs recruit young Brits, often the player lives in hundreds of miles away, but clubs are only allowed to sign players within a 60 mile radius. So what Chelsea do is buy local houses and move the family closer. Of course not all families will take this, but many do.

This is an issue as it means players don't get the chances that they would at other, smaller clubs. This is the only part where foreign players are even half of an issue. But before they even get to being considered for the first team, they are mostly washed away. There's no talent to even challenge the first team as it's not being given the chances it would in other nations. Loans are irrelevant for a 15-18 year old, most of the time they are not given that chance, and even the loan system is very flawed.

Now it's obvious, the current system still gives us some talent. Although Harry Kane is no Gary Lineker or Alan Shearer yet, he clearly has the potential to be very special. He is just one of a number of potential special talents.

But you've got to change that from "potential talents" to "future stars". Remember, in 2002-03 James Beattie scored 23 Premier League goals.

Over in Spain and Germany, they know most of their squad for the 2022 World Cup almost perfectly. But in the UK we can't even talk about a tournament in seven years. There is no stability in England and our system has not adapted as football has changed.

We are not patient enough, we over hype and over price players, we do not give them time to grow, we just throw them in the deep end straight away. Whilst some players will enjoy that, the majority won't.

So who is to blame for England's failures on the international scene? Is it talented foreigners who push our players further when all their development is done? Or is it the system that hinders the growth of most of our youngsters?

We already force clubs to have eight British players in their Premier League and Champions League squads. All that seems to have one is ruin the careers of players like Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Adam Johnson. Since that rule was introduced we have seen only a bad impact.

If you said to teams that you have to play at least four British players per game then what happens when injuries and tactics get in the way? You cannot put the restrictions in the game itself. You have to change the system of development.

This is the same in society as a whole. You can't just stop racism by writing, "Race Together" on a cup. You have to restructure the racist system and restructure education.

You can't just make English players better by throwing them in the deep end when they're 18, if anything that will hurt them. You have to make them good enough and break them through slowly.

But will anything be done?

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