FA Commission’s Report: Obstructions To Development Of English Players


A summary and review of the FA Commission’s Report on the obstructions to the development of elite English players.

The FA Commission’s First Report

I have now read all 84 pages of the FA Commission’s report on the future or English football. It would have been easy to have gone off half-cocked a week ago, just reacting to the brief summaries that appeared in some of the media. For anyone who wants to read the whole thing for themselves, it can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format for free from the official FA website. Meanwhile, I have attempted my own summary which will appear over two blogs.

Link here to FA website

Firstly, I must say I am surprised it has come out at all at this stage. It was only a month or so ago that the message coming out from the FA was the publication of the report was to be postponed until later in the summer so that it does not distract England from their World Cup efforts. Then there seemed to be a sudden change of heart…

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The Commission conducted 169 interviews and round table group sessions at all levels. The report asserts that the England team matters. It says that football is both the biggest spectator and team sport in England and, as a result, the success of the England team engages many millions of people. Success or otherwise at the World Cup or European Championships impacts on the whole nation. The largest television audience in British history, 32.3 million, watched the final of the 1966 World Cup and 23.2 million saw England knocked out of Euro 2012 by Italy. It also says that the fact that the success of the Premier League has not also been accompanied by improved quality and performance of the England team is a source of grave concern.

There might be 84 pages in total but it truly can be summed up in much less space. In fact the report does so itself, with its own executive summary. It then goes into detail on each point. It uses plenty of graphics and pictures to make it more user friendly.

How did we get here?

It starts by asking “how did we get here?” Basically it concludes that it’s Sky’s fault and is also down to the Bosman ruling. It says,

"The three key changes to the game which occurred in the 1990s are crucial to an understanding of how we have arrived in this situation."

  • The first was the advent of pay TV and the decision by Sky in particular to base its subscription model around regular premium sports content.
  • The second and related change was of course the advent of the Premier League. A new competition that shared the revenues of these new lucrative broadcast deals with the leading clubs. Since 1992 the Premier League’s domestic TV rights have gone from £42m to over £1 billion today with an additional £700m also secured from international rights deals. This increased revenue has also allowed English clubs to be at the forefront of the global market for playing talent, with unintended consequences for the development of our own players.
  • Thirdly, the 1995 Bosman ruling changed football right across Europe. The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice on the ruling said that at the time of Bosman it was,

"…..unlikely that the migration of foreign players would increase to the extent that the chances of domestic players would be seriously diminished."

In the case of English football, as the evidence of this report demonstrates, he was categorically wrong.

The report identifies four key areas as the primary obstructions to the development of elite English players.

Obstructions to the Development of elite English Players

  1. Most importantly inadequate competitive playing opportunities for 18-21 year old elite players at top clubs.
  2. The ineffectiveness of the regulation of the player market in preserving the desired balance between English, EU and non-EU players.
  3. The quality and impact of coaching and coach education especially in grassroots football.
  4. The quantity and quality of grassroots facilities, especially all-weather pitches.

This initial report focuses on 1 and 2 only.

Further reports will follow from the FA Commission.

Tomorrow: The Proposed Solutions