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FA choose Liverpool for pilot project

A plan to transform grassroots facilities and coaching across England is central to the second instalment of Greg Dyke’s FA Chairman’s England Commission.

The latest and final report from the year-long study aimed at improving the prospects of the England senior men’s team was unveiled in Sheffield on Friday.

In September 2013, Dyke set a target of increasing the current number of English players playing regularly in the Premier League from the present level of 66 to 90 by 2022.

Dyke described the “continuing reduction in the number of English players playing football at the highest level” as a “serious and growing problem for the future of English football”.

In order to meet this challenge, the Commission has focused on the entire pathway for players to ensure they can develop to the best of their potential.

Facilities and coaching have been central to the work over the past 12 months, and Dyke has sought advice and support from across the game and beyond for the Commission’s plans.

The report has proposed that by 2020 there will be:

* Football hubs in 30 cities, increasing the number of top-quality artificial grass pitches (AGPs) in urban areas by 130 per cent to more than 500
* Leading the way will be a pilot scheme in Sheffield, followed by Birmingham and Liverpool.
* A 50 per cent increase in the total number of full-size, publicly accessible 3G AGPs across England, to over 1,000
* More than 150 new football-owned and managed football hubs to support the delivery of FA, County FA and professional club youth development and coach education programmes
* More than 50 per cent of all mini-soccer and youth football matches – about 3,750 per week – being played on the best quality AGPs

The Commission has thanked the Government, Sport England, the Premier League, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA for their work on the new proposals.

Minister for Sport Helen Grant said: “I welcome The FA’s plans to strengthen the game at the grassroots through improved facilities and coaching. This will build on the successful partnership between the government and football’s £102m Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund.

“I am keen to see what more we can do to help further improve the nation’s facility stock, putting 3G pitches in places that need them most, and I am continuing discussions with the football authorities on this front.”

Cllr Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The people of Sheffield love their football. We play and watch the game in massive numbers – boys, girls and adults of all ages. However, like many cities, the council’s ability to fund football facilities is under severe pressure due to major budget cuts.

“I’m therefore delighted that the council and The FA have taken the initiative to work together on securing new national funding into our local facilities and in particular an emerging plan to offer additional state-of-the-art 3G artificial pitches. I’m also proud that Sheffield has been chosen first by the FA to trial this new national approach, this reflects Sheffield’s commitment to football combined with our ability to forge strong relationships with national partners.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “The council is a massive supporter of grassroots football, we don’t charge our junior teams to play and have invested in four 3G pitches to date, so this new partnership will further unleash the immense footballing talent we know is in this city.

“Liverpool and football go hand in hand, and each week tens of thousands of people either play or watch this much loved sport, so to be able to have the opportunity to develop the facilities and coaching currently on offer is massively exciting.

“It is a real coup that the FA has chosen Liverpool as one of their pilot areas for investing in the grassroots game and it will be a huge boost to the game as a whole – after all the grassroots footballers of today are the Premiership stars of tomorrow.”

With regard to coaching, the Commission has considered and recommends a two-step solution.

Firstly, a new coach education organisation. It is proposed that all The FA’s education work, from coach education through to referee development and safeguarding, needs to be brought together in a single department.

This department would be led by a new Head of Education and he or she should report to a Technical Director who will be responsible for coaching overall and will sit on The FA’s executive.

The organisation would define and own a clear strategy for coach and player development.

Secondly, the Commission believes it is important that The FA sets ambitious coaching targets to be achieved over the next three years, building on the significant steps taken in recent years including the building of the national football centre at St. George’s Park.

The report said the initial focus should be on increasing the numbers of skilled coach educators, which in turn will result in a greatly increased number of highly qualified coaches.

In summary, the Commission believes over the next three years the targets should be to:

*Recruit a further 25 full-time FA coach educators
*More than triple the number of Youth Award Level 3 coaches from 800 to 3,000
*More than triple the number of Advanced Youth Award holders from 200 to 750
*Increase the number of Pro Licence holders from around 200 to 300
*Set and deliver a target to significantly increase – above the levels of Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Plan – the number of qualified coaches from BAME backgrounds and others who are under-represented, including female coaches

It adds that The FA should set further targets to improve the quality of existing coaches; adding formal assessment of their capabilities and providing them with excellent ongoing training and support.

The new report also provides updates on ongoing work on the lack of playing opportunities for players from 18-21, the consultation underway for changes to the rules governing work permits for non-EU players, and efforts to boost opportunities for home grown players across clubs.

Reflecting on progress since the Commission was established, the report suggests the situation has not markedly improved although it does point to some positive shifts.

This season’s comparable figures to date for Premier League starts by English players remain at 32 per cent but the figure for the ‘top six’ Premier League clubs has fallen further, from 28 per cent to 25 per cent for the season to date. Two decades ago, that figure was at 69 per cent.

About the FA Chairman’s Commission

The FA Chairman’s Commission – made up of Roger Burden, Greg Clarke, Rio Ferdinand, Dario Gradi, Glenn Hoddle, Roy Hodgson, Ritchie Humphreys, Danny Mills and Howard Wilkinson – began work in October 2013.

The first 80-page report, put together after contributions from more than 650 people, reported in May on four primary obstructions to the development of elite English players.

1 – Inadequate and insufficient competitive playing opportunities for 18-21 year-old elite players at top clubs
2 – Regulation of the player market in England is not effective in preserving the desired balance of British, EU and non-EU players in clubs
3 – Coaching and coach development, especially at grassroots level, have not yet reached a satisfactory level and impact
4 – England lags behind in the quantity and quality of affordable grassroots facilities, particularly in the provision of all-weather pitches

About The FA – Supporting football since 1863

The FA is the not-for-profit, governing body of football in England. It grows participation, promotes diversity and regulates the sport for everyone to enjoy. Seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees help The FA keep the grassroots game going.

The FA runs 24 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park. Football is the nation’s favourite game. The FA aims to grow it further in 2014. To find out more visit and follow @FA

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