Monday, 31 October 2011

Solutions to England's national football system

Hi folks. I can't post my GW 10 summary yet, as Stoke are due to play Newcastle United on Monday. Instead, to fill the void, I thought that I should post my "Football Reform Manifesto" that I wrote up after England's lacklustre performance in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Let me know your thoughts and enjoy...

Solutions to England's national football system:
Football Reform Manifesto - written circa July 2010

Scrap the League Cup

- There is no point in having two domestic cup competitions (the other being the FA Cup). In recent years, even the big teams have treated the League Cup as a training/reserve team exercise. The abolition of the League Cup will ensure that there is a reduction in fixture congestion and as a result there will be less player fatigue.

Reduce the Premier League to 18 teams

- By reducing the Premier League to 18 teams, the football season will finish earlier, by at least an extra 3-4 weeks. This will ensure that players get more rest and time to recover from each match.

Introduce a Winter Break

- This can be easily achieved if either of the first two proposals are implemented. The ideal time for this to occur would be in the last two weeks of December, midway through the season. This concept is not alien to football and is practised elsewhere, such as in Germany.

Increase the number of England (national and B team) friendly matches

- Time and time again we hear of complaints about English players not getting enough time to show their "talent" in an England shirt. As it stands, the limited number of friendlies creates a situation where young players would be lucky to get 10 minutes of match play in a friendly. If they fail to prove their worth, they may not get picked again. With a reduced Premier League and Winter Break, the England national football team could easily play at least two more extra friendly matches per year, in which you can have a mixed squad of players playing against mediocre and good opposition. In addition, the England B team should be revived and used as a regular platform for English players (over the age of 21) that play in the Premier League, but are on the fringes of the England national team.

Invest in Youth Development

- This may seem pretty obvious, but it is often neglected, especially in England. The FA had a "School of Excellence" from 1984-1999, which produced the likes of Michael Owen and Joe Cole (and many other Premier League players). However, no decent alternative exists today. Without something similar and better, the England football team will not progress any time soon.

Introduce a "5-domestic players rule" per match squad

- It would be wrong to put a cap on the number of EU and non-EU players that play in the Premier League. However, it is about time that the FA did do more to nurture domestic talent in the top flight. One way that they could do this would be to introduce a rule that demands the inclusion of at least 5 English players in a match squad. To put this in perspective, that would be 5 players from a first team squad of 16-20. It will ensure that English players get a chance, whilst not undermining the positive presence of foreign players.

Introduce a salary cap

- It is unbelievable to think that a considerable number of English players earn over £100,000 a week, yet fail to deliver on the international stage. The Premier League has the highest average weekly wage per player in the world. Paying high amounts to such players only adds to their egos and prima donna statuses. Consequently, as a common sense and cost effective measure, it would be best to introduce a salary cap (excluding performance related bonuses) that is reviewed every season.

Encourage English born players to play abroad

- Time and time again we see young foreign players leaving their home countries to seek opportunities abroad. Such a hunger is currently not present within England. In fact, it is rare for an English player to ply their trade abroad. Of course, there are rare exceptions that do, such as Owen Hargreaves who started at Bayern Munich as a youth player and then became a full England international. France (and the continent) is only a train ride away for many would-be English professionals that want to develop their game. Instead of complaining about the lack of opportunities abroad, they should be incentivised to go abroad to develop their game, rather than slumping into semi-professional/amateur oblivion.

Transfer control of the England team from the FA to the Premier League

- This is a controversial idea, but the fact of the matter is that almost all English players are contracted to Premier League clubs. It would make more sense for the governing body of the Premier League to take charge of the England team than the FA. The FA should concentrate on the administration of the Football League (Championship to League One), as well as the development of grass-roots football. The Premier League may be money-driven, but it is also results driven, unlike the FA. Therefore a radical shake up in the overseeing of the England team could lead to better success on and off the pitch.

Why do we need change?  Because It's time to learn from past mistakes...