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Soccerex Asian Forum: Dein backs Dyke’s report; US chief wants less Premier League influence

Wed 14th May 2014 | Football Governance

Former FA vice-chairman David Dein has backed chairman Greg Dyke’s report into improving English football, but urged a cautious approach at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

The former executive vice-chairman of Arsenal was speaking at the inaugural Soccerex Asian Forum when he commended the FA chief’s commission.

Although Dein, who was one of the architects of the Premier League, was reticent in saying that wholesale changes should take place, particularly in light of the proposal of the top sides to introduce B-teams.

“All credit to Greg Dyke for shaking the tree,” he said. “It needed to be shaken. The trick is to make sure that the fruit is not too bruised afterwards because if you don’t make progress. It’s like I always say; you don’t get anywhere unless you stick your neck out.

“What Greg has done, is it flawed yes, but its work in progress and it won’t be as it’s presented at the moment I’m sure.

“England is streets ahead commercially than its neighbours in France and Italy and Spain but what we haven’t got is what’s going on on the field of play.

“That’s where there’s room for improvement.”

But a limit on players coming to the Premier League from abroad, particularly those who need work permits, was not a suggestion Dein was in favour of.

“You don’t want to stop talented players coming to the Premier League, that would be wrong” he said before adding that the work permit system could perhaps be tightened up in ensuring the best players came through. 

But a focus on young English players was a key theme of the commission’s report, and it proposed upgrading the standard and attitude of coaching from grassroots level upwards.

Along that line, Dein said “It’s very important that football is in a healthy state from top to bottom. You need to protect the pyramid so youngsters get a chance.

“The Premier League is putting a lot of time, effort and money into its youth development programme and I hope that we will see, in years to come, a very healthy global game where everybody has a chance of getting right to the top.”

England’s top division can certainly afford to put money into youth development. In the 2012/13 season, the revenue for the Premier League was $2.2million. That figure was largely helped by $310million from Thailand who, according to Dentsu Sports Asia President Kunihito Morimura, only spent around $1million on their own domestic league.

Such discrepancy is a concern for United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, who has helped developed modern US soccer and was speaking on day two of the conference by the Dead Sea.

He said “Is the Premier League the best league in the world? Well, year on year it’s showing more games in the US – is that good or bad for US soccer and the development of the MLS. If you look at the amount of money that’s being spent on television rights outside of countries, it would be pretty hard to argue that’s good.

“It’s certainly good for the Premier League, but if you could just spend 5 per cent of that on your domestic league – and recently we’ve seen that we’ve actually edged out the Premier League for domestic rights in the US versus what NBC pays the Premier League.

“That’s a good thing in my view but it’s taken 19 years.”

So while the rest of the world remains envious of the English Premier League’s global appeal, the governors of the game in England are desperately trying to cling on to their national identity.

Words: Christian Radnedge

Image: Action Images / Muhammed Al Kisswany

Posted by: Kev Howland 

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