Tory MP Duncan Smith prepares to slam FA

January 23, 2008

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith will spark controversy in Parliament today by questioning the state of English football.

Duncan Smith, speaking as an individual MP rather than on behalf of the Conservatives, has accused the Football Association of failing to keep their promise of a 'root-and-branch review' of the game following England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

Duncan Smith, until recently a season ticket-holder at Tottenham, will also claim the FA are 'too scared' of the Premier League to tackle the issue of English football being dominated by foreign players.

The FA and Premier League have strongly denied his claims.

Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, will not call for quotas on foreigners but said he was shocked to discover that English players make up only 37% of top-flight first-team squads - though the Premier League say the figure relates to starting XIs and 54% of squads are English.

Duncan Smith told PA Sport: 'The FA made this great promise about a root-and-branch review and what has happened - absolutely nothing.

'Where is this great debate? This is the time the FA should come into their own and find out what's causing this shortfall of success at international level, and dearth of English players in the Premier League.

'A lot of people are incredibly disappointed that after what was a really appalling performance [in Euro 2008 qualifying] nothing has happened.'

Duncan Smith will use his adjournment debate in the House of Commons highlight to highlight the impact of foreign footballers - and quote statistics that only 37% of players in Premier League full squads are English compared to 62% in Italy and France, 61% in Spain and 50% in Germany.

He believes the FA are unwilling to face the problem because of the power of the Premier League clubs - but that the appointment of Lord Triesman as the first independent chairman should be used as an opportunity to tackle the issue.

Duncan Smith added: 'I think the FA is scared of the Premier League.

'My worry is that the FA have decided to shut up shop on this issue because they know very well this needs the Premier League to engage in it and the clubs have become more and more powerful because there is so much money involved.

'But they care about the their national side in Italy, Spain, France and Germany and the Premier League should care about ours.

'They have a new chairman about to take over and this is an opportunity - and I hope they will have an open process that invites the thoughts and comments of everyone in football - not least the supporters.'

Duncan Smith will also state his worries about young English players coming through the ranks.

The FA said a 'strategic vision' would be launched soon detailing their plans for the next five years and that the 'root-and-branch' review related to the England senior set-up and was still going on.

An FA spokesman said: 'With regard to wider issues being debated all across football about development of players the number of overseas players and grass-roots initiatives, as most people are aware we have gone through a long period of strategic review and will soon be in a position to launch our vision for the next five years which will address this issue.'

Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson said: 'The figures are not correct and the other comments are unfortunate given that the Premier League, FA and Football League have all just sat down and agreed upon a strategy for youth development in the professional game.

'We are working with the FA and Football League to raise the standard of youth coaching in order to produce the best possible youth players not only for Premier League clubs but also the national side.'