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SWINDON TOWN: McCrory criticises Dyke vision
SWINDON Town chairman Jed McCrory has waded into the state of English football debate by saying ‘invest in the Football League as the Premier League will not change’.
Last week Greg Dyke, the new chairman of the Football Association, addressed the nation’s footballing contingent - speaking outwardly to fans, coaches, players and journalists in search of an answer to the decline in numbers of homegrown talent in the Premier League.
In doing so, Dyke announced his intention to chair an exploratory commission which will assess how only 32 per cent of starters in the English top flight are actually English, how the downturn can be reversed and what Premier League clubs must do to assist in that process.
For McCrory, however, a passionate advocate of lower-league football and what he terms ‘the working class game’, it’s no use trying to treat the upper echelons of the sport in this country when the problem lies much deeper.
Furthermore, he questioned Dyke’s suggestion that the FA are unable to influence the development of young footballers.
In retaliation to Dyke saying “there are areas that we do not directly control – youth development in particular,” McCrory was scathing in his criticism of a financial model he feels unfairly rewards failure and inadequately gives smaller clubs a chance.
In a candid discussion with the Advertiser, the Town chairman stressed that the Premier League would never change its ways, that the problem in this country goes “way beyond” an apparent deficit in coaches compared with other European juggernauts and that if Dyke and the FA want to reverse a worrying trend, they need to consider cutting the size of parachute payments and rebalance the size of solidarity payments handed out to clubs relegated to the Premier League.
Instead, McCrory wants to see cash pumped into youth setups in the Football League.
He said: “The fact Greg Dyke is interested in improving our coaching and youth to aid the England team is great news. However, I feel having a review to ask how only 32 per cent of starters in the Premier League are English is irrelevant as it’s obvious.
“The Premier League clubs’ commercial value is vast and the need to stay in the top flight is such that clubs n TURN TO PAGE 43 don't, rightly from their perspective, look at what nationality you are, they just ask ‘can you help keep us up?’ “So the point I ask is what are you going to do about it?
“Let’s be realistic, the Premier League won't change as too much money is involved as it is global commodity in its own right, which is no bad thing for the English game as a whole.
“So what is the way forward for grass roots football and the link into pro football for young English talent?
“I believe it goes way beyond just coaching.
“Society has changed. Youth centres are not open as much as they should be due to government funding cuts, kids don't play on the streets like they did 20 years ago, parks are not filled with kids playing football or any sport for that matter and most Football League clubs don't have the funding requirements required to supply coaches or scouts to reach out to those kids. Community football is dying.
“So how can the FA sort this situation out?
“Firstly, I believe the solidarity payments which have been dictated by the Premier League need to be rebalanced.
“Around £5.5billion has gone into football through such payments, with 93.27 per cent going into the top flight for its 20 members to share while 6.73 per cent is shared between 72 teams, £195million over three years.
“Additionally, the Football League receives £240million in solidarity payments but the crucial point is that £177million is reserved for parachute payments from the solidarity funds.
“To describe what this means to the lower levels of the game, I’ll take the example of Millwall. They receive £1.8million plus £2million in solidarity payments. They are a steady Championship team currently and yet they will play against a team who gets relegated from the Premiership over the next three seasons on a financial footing of £23million in year one, £18million in year two and £9million in year three.
“It’s a nice reward for failure and hardly competitive and fair on teams chasing the dream of Premiership football. When £23million plays £3.8million it’s abject injustice.
“This needs to be fundamentally addressed to ensure a more even spread of funds, and good financial housekeeping for relegated teams from the Premiership should be enforced.
“Clauses regarding relegation should be inserted into contracts, which will assist relegated teams from the Premiership and allow a fairer spread of funds.
“I believe those extra funds should be diverted into the Football League’s youth academies, which currently cost lower league clubs six figures annually to keep open.”
McCrory’s aim is to promote Swindon’s academy status within the Elite Player Performance Plan to category two. To do that alone would mean an outlay of around £300,000 annually.
“Additionally, there is only a minimal scouting network currently available to these clubs, which restricts the chance of good local talent being spotted,” he said.
“We should encourage the Football League to recruit and train English kids, with a funding facility to aid the coaches and players coming to the end of their careers to get involved in teaching kids with their badges being partly paid for.
“We could create a purchase band for young English talent to move from the Football League to the Premiership, as in theory they are helping lower-league clubs to create better English talent and bringing them to the forefront.
“In summary, if the FA have the funding, I believe it should be invested in a Football League model as the Premier League will not change.
“I believe investing in the Football League will aid the British game going forward and encourage grass roots sport, as well as giving back the working class game to the fans.”
And according to McCrory, the buck cannot be allowed to stop simply with the men and women who decide where football’s millions is diverted to.
In his eyes it is a governmental issue as well.
“One of my other points is we need greater involvement from local government, who are making cuts and reducing the youth house facilities for local kids if we are going to regenerate our communities,” he said. “Too often these facilities are open for a ridiculous five hours a week.
“I believe they should review proposals to integrate youth houses with the local football clubs with the funding that is allocated to the youth houses.
“Clubs, like Swindon, are brands who have community trusts aiding youth houses, but I believe this is just a drop in the ocean and far greater action is required as youth houses could be the grass roots link to sports clubs and facilities from a young age.
“The review being undertaken by Greg Dyke will be simply a paper exercise unless they address the issues I have highlighted.”
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