Youth football tops agenda for Mills as Premier League backs commission

Danny Mills
Danny Mills
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HAVING been named on a new Football Association commission charged with improving the national game, Danny Mills has called for radical changes to youth football.

The former Leeds United and England defender will join FA chairman Greg Dyke and former Three Lions manager Glenn Hoddle on what the governing body hope will be a 10-man panel.

Others already confirmed to take part are League Managers’ Association chairman Howard Wilkinson, Football League chairman Greg Clarke, FA vice-chairman Roger Burden, new PFA chairman Ritchie Humphreys, and former Crewe Alexandra chief Dario Gradi.

Mills, who also played for Hull City during his playing career, said: “There are pockets of real potential – young players with skills I never dreamt of and progressive coaches – but they are isolated cases.

“I also watch a lot of awful football. If we want the best for English football, we need improvement with the right coaching in every school and club in the country.

“We like to think to think that there can be organic change, but sometimes you have to enforce it. We have to rip up the rulebook if necessary to improve kids’ football.”

On the work the commission will undertake, Dyke said: “It will take a few months; we are employing some people to work full-time on it, to do some research.

“We have to look at all sorts of other countries. Look at Spain, Germany and the rest, look at what they did, what could we do, and the rest of it.”

Premier League chairman Anthony Fry has also been invited to join the commission, but has turned down the offer.

Asked about the Premier League’s decision, Dyke said: “I spoke to the chairman, who is an old mate of mine, and Richard (Scudamore) and we discussed it before and they said, ‘look, we will give all the support we can but we don’t want to sit on it’. I think it’s a shame but I understand.”

However, there was a fresh twist yesterday when a Premier League spokesman insisted that the body is part of the commission.

Premier League director of communications Dan Johnson said: “The Premier League is part of Greg Dyke’s commission.

“We and the clubs agreed last month with the FA that it would be better to engage with it as a collective rather than have one individual attend the meetings. Greg Dyke agreed at the time that this was the best way forward.

“We will take a full part in the processes and outputs of the commission and have put the considerable knowledge, experience, research and data at the commission’s disposal, whether that is drawn from the Premier League board, executive or member clubs and their staff.

“There is a huge amount of expertise at our clubs. It has been made absolutely clear that Greg and his team can speak to or gather evidence from Premier League club directors, first-team managers, academy managers and any other league representatives they feel would benefit the process.

“As our chairman, Anthony Fry, said back in September: ‘There is no doubt around the Premier League table as to the benefits of a national set-up that is thriving and performing well. That is why the Premier League clubs, board and executive all signed up to contributing to the process of debate initiated by Greg, and helping to identify any appropriate outcomes that will serve to improve standards and delivery in respect of player development’.

“This position remains wholly unchanged.

“One thing that will make it much easier for the Premier League to define our precise involvement is when we receive the terms of reference, details of the secretariat and a timetable.”