Greg Dyke took over as the new Chairman of the Football Association on Saturday. He gave an interview1 outlining what he wants to achieve.
He said, “What is it the FA should be doing? Obviously you want the England team to be successful, and different levels of the England team to be successful.
“Two, you want as many people as possible to play the game and three – there’s discipline.”
Many would say that his first aim, the success of the England teams, can only be achieved by reining in the power of the Premier League. Gary Lineker has accused the Premier League of disregarding the best interests of the national team by scheduling big games before an international match.2 Graham Taylor3 and David Bernstein4 have both said that there should be more English players playing in the Premier League.
When the FA allowed the Premier League to break away it claimed that an elite division would help the England team. Graham Taylor, who was then the England manager and therefore an employee of the FA, said, “I’m not totally convinced this is for the betterment of the England team. I think a lot of this is based on greed.”5
Dyke too was involved in the creation of the Premier League. He was an executive with ITV at the time and he was the one who promised the big clubs a TV windfall when they broke away from the rest of the League.6 He knew that the deal in 1992 was going to be huge because of the competition from Sky TV.
If that money had been more evenly distributed among those who played football, both in the Football League and all the lower tiers, it could have revitalised the whole game. Instead the money went to those at the top, to ensure that they stayed at the top, which led to a loss of competitiveness. A wider distribution of the money might also have helped to increase the level of participation. More investment to provide decent facilities and coaching for children learning the game would increase the likelihood of them continuing to play as adults. Instead we have a situation were fewer people are playing the game; Sport England reported that the number of people playing football declined by 258,000 last year.7
It will be interesting to see what Dyke does, as chairman of the FA, to deal with the problems that the FA and the uneven distribution of the TV money helped to create.
- New Football Association chairman Greg Dyke outlines three-point plan
- Gary Lineker: Premier League disregards England best interests
- England football team harmed by Premier League – Graham Taylor
- Premier League has desperate ‘English players’ need – Bernstein
- Pages 100-103, The Beautiful Game? by David Conn
- Pages 5, 47, 51 ibid
- Fewer adults playing sport since London Olympics