LONDON: Whatever the state of staging at the 2022 World Cup – summer or winter, hot or cold, Qatar or somewhere else – Greg Dyke wants England to win.
The new chairman of the Football Association has set out his target for a revival of the fortunes of the national team even though he worries that soon there will be only a handful of English players appearing in the Premier League.
Dyke chose an international week to make a lengthy and wide-ranging speech outlining his concerns for the game.
He insisted his address should not be interpreted as a declaration of war on the Premier League but his major worries centre around the diminishing number of Englishmen in the top flight.
Dyke intends to create a commission, including Premier League representation, to find a solution.
He said: “I want to set the whole of English football two targets. The first is for the England team to at least reach the semi finals of the European Championships in 2020. The second is for us to win the World Cup in 2022.
“To show we are making progress I’d like to see us do well in the Under-20s World Cup in 2017 with the objective of that squad then moving on to the Under-21 European Championships.
“Are these realistic targets? Without targets what are we working towards? Some will say that targets are only burdening our players with more pressure but top players have to be able to handle pressure if they want to be winners – and we want to be winners.”
Dyke has already revealed himself as in favour of the 2020 World Cup finals in Qatar being switched to a winter date to avoid searing summer temperatures in the Gulf.
His 2020 mission could be aided by England having home advantage for some of their fixtures under UEFA’s multi-host idea. But delicate diplomacy – not considered one of Dyke’s greatest qualities – will be essential to bring the clubs onside against what many may consider as their own best interests.
However Dyke had no doubt about the value of his cause.
He said: “Television ratings show quite clearly that fans certainly want a successful English team. Club matches occasionally get audiences in excess of 10 million when teams are playing an important match on free to air television.
“But when England are playing in the finals of the World Cup or the European Championships as many as 20 million people watch a game.”
The summer failures of England’s Under-21 and Under-20 squads in the European championships had raised Dyke’s concerns.
He said: “Last season’s figure for the Premier League was 32% English players starting games. Do we let this trend continue? What happens when that declines to 25pc, to 20pc or even 15pc? Do we still ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Or do we take action now?
“I know this speech could be written up as ‘Dyke declares war on the Premier League’ but it genuinely isn’t that. English football has a problem. English football has to find a solution together.
“It is crucial that English football finds a solution without undermining the undoubted success of the Premier League. We don’t want to kill the golden goose in the search of the golden egg.
“But the situation is very serious. English football is a tanker which needs turning and we all have a responsibility to do our best to reverse this frightening trend because if we fail we will be letting English football down and we will be letting the nation down.”
Dyke’s key points
** England reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and winning the World Cup in 2022;
** Describing the English game as a “tanker which needs turning”;
** citing the amount of foreign players limiting chances for English players;
** worrying England do not have a history of success compared with international rivals;
** wanting to improve how England identify and nurture talent and create an environment where the players want to play for England;
** wanting more English players who are consistent starters in the Premier League;
** believing it “crucial that English football finds a solution without undermining the undoubted success of the Premier League”;
** planning an FA Commission on why so few players registered for England play in the Premier League, what can be done about it and how changes can be made?
** exploring a quota system for foreign players;
** examining the current work permit system;
** examining the loan system to see if it can be made more effective in terms of developing players;
** evaluating the pros and cons of a mid-season break.
# # # #