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Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:06 UK

Money has poisoned English football - Andy Burnham

Former Culture, Media and Sport secretary Andy Burnham
Burnham feels the FA is dominated by the Premier League

English football is suffering because it has become too commercial, says former culture secretary Andy Burnham.

The national side's disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa was ended by a 4-1 last-16 defeat by Germany.

Burnham, whose ministerial remit included sport until May, told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think money has poisoned our national game.

"Our game has rampant commercialism. We have put money before the sport and we are reaping the dividends of that."

The Football Association is considering the future of England manager Fabio Capello after his team failed to reproduce the form that earned qualification for the finals in South Africa with nine wins and one defeat.

The players failed to find their club form as England were held to a 1-1 draw by the United States in their World Cup group opener on 11 June ahead of a dour scoreless stalemate with Algeria on 18 June.

Capello's men secured their place in the second phase despite failing to convincingly beat Slovenia after Jermain Defoe's 22nd minute strike for England in Port Elizabeth.

But they had to make do with the runners-up spot after Landon Donovan's dramatic stoppage-time goal secured a narrow win over Algeria and with it top spot in Group C for the US.

As a result, England were paired with Group D winners Germany for a place in the quarter-finals but Capello's team were outclassed by a vastly superior side.

Burnham has been thinking the commercialisation of the game since the advent of the Premier League in 1992 is behind the England team's struggles this summer.

"The governing body is a hung parliament and it isn't able to take a view, as the interests of the Premier League, sadly, predominate at the FA," he added.

"Since the Premier League was created we've had commercial forces running riot across our game.

"We have seen fans priced out of going to football, we have seen money going out of the top of the game and not benefiting the grass roots or the lower divisions and I think it's got to change."

They dislike the arrogance of English football and they think we have failed to tame commercialism in our own sport.

Andy Burnham

With Premier League clubs recruiting from overseas - around 60% of players in England's elite league are foreign nationals - young English players have been struggling to flourish with the top clubs.

And Burnham has said that the FA must choose between either a thriving Premier League or a strong national team.

"We are paying people from all around the world to come here and hone their skills, leaving their own domestic leagues around the world free to bring on the next generation of talent, while our own players here can't get into starting line-ups," he commented.

England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup finals is being assessed by world governing body Fifa, which is due to announce its decision on 2 December.


Burnham was with the FA delegation, including former FA chairman Lord Triesman, Capello and former England captain David Beckham, that handed over the England 2018 bid book to Fifa in Zurich and May.

The former culture secretary said that during that trip it became clear that the English game would have to change if it was to win the right to host the tournament:

"They dislike the arrogance of English football and they think we have failed to tame commercialism in our own sport," he stated.

"And it's not just that it has a damaging effect on English football, it affects football everywhere, particularly in Europe because it has an inflationary effect on wages across Europe but also our clubs are bringing in that talent from a very young age from countries all around the world.

"So they see the effect of the English game on the stability of football elsewhere and they don't like it and I don't blame the for not liking it."

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see also
FA joint chairman backing Capello
01 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Barwick baffled by dismal England
29 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Wilkinson fears for England team
29 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Pressure on FA after England exit
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Labour leadership contenders confirmed
09 Jun 10 |  Politics
FA 'should not run England team'
25 Mar 10 |  Football
Government condemns FA 'failings'
24 Sep 09 |  Football

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