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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 14:03 GMT
Eriksson blamed for friendly farce
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson was forced to field two sides at Upton Park
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has accused England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson of devaluing England friendlies.

Eriksson sent out a different side in both halves of their friendly with Australia in midweek after agreeing not to field his star players for more than 45 minutes.

And Scudamore argued Eriksson should not have agreed to restrict the amount of time key players spent on the pitch.

We cannot get to a situation where a manager strikes arbitrary deals with England managers

Richard Scudamore

"We got ourselves into this mess because of deals that have been done between club managers and Sven and it's just not the way to go about doing it," Scudamore told BBC Radio Five Live.

"It's been a situation of reaping what you sow.

"The reality is every single time England play, be it a friendly or a qualifying tournament, it has to be taken very seriously. You're representing your country."

England slipped to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at home to Australia on Wednesday.

And Scudamore has called for Eriksson to take a tougher stance with the Premiership's top bosses in future.

Both Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have been reluctant to release their star players for friendly matches during the season.

But Scudamore added: "The rules are quite simple: you will release your players for international duty. It's in the Fifa rule book.

"There's absolutely no reason why Sven and the Football Association can't demand that that happens.

"The minute you give the impression that these matches are not important then the whole thing spirals down.

Premier league chief Richard Scudamore
Scudamore blames Eriksson for the Australia farce

"I think Wednesday was the culmination of the very viscous spiral we've got ourselves into."

The FA said Eriksson will meet with Ferguson, Wenger, Bobby Robson of Newcastle, Liverpool's Gerard Houllier and Terry Venables of Leeds next month in a bid to sort out the problem.

Scudamore is hoping to be at the meeting and called for the managers of all 20 top flight clubs to be invited.

"We have to get this in order, it's unrealistic to expect a club manager to think of anything other than his club first," he added.

"But we cannot get to a situation where a manager strikes arbitrary deals with England managers as to how often and how long his players are allowed to play or whether they can be called up at all."

England v Australia latest

England 1-3 Australia

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17 Jan 03 | Arsenal
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