Exclusive: Dyke shrugs off threat of early setback to task force

Frank Dalleres
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FOOTBALL Association chairman Greg Dyke has told City A.M. his plan for a commission to tackle the lack of top English talent playing in the Premier League remains on schedule to start this month despite signs of difficulties.

Dyke announced the measure last week, when he invited chiefs from the Premier League, the Football League, players’ union the PFA and managers’ body the LMA to join him on the new task force.

Top-flight clubs would have to formally approve the move for Premier League chairman Anthony Fry to join the commission, and it is understood that will not happen at today’s meeting as a vote is unlikely to take place.

The LMA is also believed to want further talks with Dyke before officially committing.

But Dyke insisted last night that chairmen from all four organisations had verbally agreed to join the working group, and that it was still on track to start in the next three weeks.

Asked who had accepted his invitation, he said: “Verbally, all of them. And I would expect that one or two other people will too. I’ve talked to Anthony Fry and asked him to be a member and verbally he has said yes.”

Former BBC director general Dyke played down the need for top-flight clubs to approve if Fry wanted to join the commission.

“This is an FA commission,” he added. “I’ve invited the chairmen of the Premier League, Football League, PFA and LMA to join me. That would be up to them.”

Sources close to the Premier League said the FA had not provided any further details of the commission’s terms of reference, structure, and how it would work, despite Dyke being scheduled to attend today’s routine meeting for some time. Without advanced papers, club chairmen would be unlikely to vote on the issue.

Dyke said he had no plans to speak at the meeting, but added: “If they ask me to, I will.”

Football League chairman Greg Clarke, who represents the three divisions below the top flight, is understood to be on board. The PFA did not respond to enquiries yesterday.

A failure to get all of English football’s key powerbrokers involved would be a significant setback to Dyke’s first major move as chairman since taking office in July.

In his speech he identified the shortage of England-qualified players at Premier League clubs as a concern, and said his commission would examine causes and potential solutions.

Premier League chiefs, who have rejected claims that the division’s success is responsible for the national team’s failure, are thought willing to discuss measures to complement their own Elite Player Performance Plan.

But they are dismayed by the idea EPPP could be scrapped just one year into a four-year plan, having committed three years to devising the scheme and £340m to its implementation.