John Barnes says FA Commission needs support from top Premier League clubs

Last Updated: 20/10/13 5:31pm

Without the Premier League playing an active role on the FA Commission, Greg Dyke's initiative to improve the national team will have little impact.

That's the view of former England winger John Barnes, who told The Footballers' Football Show the 10-man panel will find it difficult to implement any plans they come up with to improve the nation's standing in the world game.

"Unless you have the Premier League or the Premier League clubs on board to talk to them about what we can do together it is a waste of time."

John Barnes

Barnes says getting more English players playing for the top clubs in the country is the key to success on the international stage, but believes achieving that requires a significant shift in attitude from the Premier League's big guns.

"I'd want to know what [the FA Commission] can actually do," said the former Liverpool ace. "It's good to go on it because it ticks the right box of 'we're trying to make change' but I said from the outset what can they actually do?

"I really do believe unless you have the Premier League or the Premier League clubs on board to talk to them about what we can do together it is a waste of time. We need the Premier League clubs to take on board what the Commission are saying - and it won't happen.

"The only way we are going to help England is if we look at what's going on in the Premier League, at the top end.

"How can we improve England? It's as plain as day: get more English players playing for the top teams, like they did in Germany.

"The German clubs said to their federation 'yes, we are going to put young German players in our team which may mean for two or three years we don't do anything', but now look all of a sudden look at the top German players.

"However, without the support of the clubs they can't do that.

"They can speak to Jose Mourinho and the answer Mourinho should give them is 'you know what will help is if I have more English players playing for Chelsea in the Champions League. Am I going to do that? Or Arsenal, or Manchester United or Liverpool?'

"Unless the top clubs do that all these players coming through with great potential, brought up in the right way won't improve."


While there have been calls for a cap to placed on the number of foreign players allowed to play in for English clubs, question marks remain over whether that would be legally viable.

But, although a cap may be unfeasible, Barnes believes the change can still come about if there is a desire from top clubs to operate in a manner which benefits the England team.

However, he said that due to the amount of foreign owners and managers in the top flight it will be difficult to convince them to do that.

"You can't implement it from a legal point of view but what can happen is what they've done in Barcelona with the Catalans and in Germany with the Bavarians, where other countries try to retain their identity," he said.

"While they can't stop foreign players coming in the clubs can say, the owners can say and the fans can say 'we have to try and retain some form of identity, so if we have to have local players playing, although we can get better foreigners, we will do that'.

"But in England it seems as though if we can get the best team it doesn't matter about the national team.

"The managers and owners aren't English so they don't have a responsibility to the national team. Whereas in Germany all the clubs, apart from two, are owned locally, so they feel a responsibility to the national team."