The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE
Former England manager Howard Wilkinson has slammed the FA for not doing enough to safeguard the national side, claiming England is facing a 'football global warming,' with the pool of native players dwindling because of foreign stars.
Among his damning predictions are that:
• The national side is doomed if foreign player numbers increase
• The FA and Premiership must take responsibility
• English Football is now the new Hollywood
• Managers are scared of playing English players
• England will fail to qualify for 2018 World Cup
Wilkinson, 63, insists that if the number of foreign players continues to increase, at all levels of the game, then England can kiss goodbye to any chance of winning a major international tournament.
In a candid interview with the-Latest, Wilkinson stated: "We are facing a football 'global warming,' I strongly believe that if we don't win an international tournament within the next 10 years, the national pool of domestic talent will close due to people losing interest in the sport. "
At fault was the number of foreign players in this country is grievously affecting opportunities for young, talented, English players to compete at the top level.
"We all might wake up to find that we have fallen down the international rankings and we may no longer be good enough to qualify for the major tournaments. I doubt we would have the quality by 2018 to even qualify for the World Cup," added Wilkinson.
Only a third of footballers in the top 10 Premiership clubs are eligible to play for the national team — an investigation has revealed. Of the 281 players, only 93 or 33 per cent of the first-team squad can play for England.
Wilkinson believes that supporter pressure for big-name players means managers are scared to nurture young English talent.
"Football in this country is the new Hollywood. Footballers now rank alongside film stars. This has created a fear amongst managers at every level of the game. Supporters want to see big name players on the pitch; managers are scared to take a risk on young players. The Premiership currently boats some of the best players in the world and maintains that this is the best country to play football. From a developer and supporter point of view this is a good thing but does nothing for our next batch of young stars."
"Sure, in the short term, having big-name players is fantastic for grassroots football as this will get more youngsters interested in the sport in the first place — great football at the top has an effect downwards. But if domestic players continue to be ignored, and failed by the system, then eventually people will lose interest," he added.
Wilkinson, Chairman of the League Managers Association, has blasted the FA and Premiership governing bodies for failing to safeguard our national interests.
"The buck stops at the feet of the FA and the Premiership. They should be announcing a strategy to deal with the problem. They have a primary responsibility towards our national interests in the game; they are simply not doing enough, which creates a downward trend in the development of our next elite young players."
He went on. "More development is needed in the coaching and nurturing of young elite players. If nothing is done and domestic players continue to be ignored by the top clubs, I doubt whether the game in this country will survive."
How the top teams line up: