Chris Sutton backs Greg Dyke's plan for England

Saturday 27 Sep 2014
Sutton believes the new facilities in Lowestoft will help youngsters play more
Chris Sutton is hoping the investment in grassroots facilities across the country will lead to the names of top English footballers coming back to the lips of the nation.

The former Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Celtic striker went back to his roots on Saturday by visiting the Dip Farm playing fields in Lowestoft to help open a new football pavilion, part-funded by The FA.

And after being joined in Suffolk by FA Chairman Greg Dyke to see two more new floodlit 3G pitches unveiled, also funded by the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund, Sutton admits he’s on the same side as Dyke in wanting to see a higher percentage of English players in the top flight. 

 

"We talk about how great the Premier League is, but on a Saturday night we don’t often talk about too many English players and that’s something which I think needs to be addressed," claimed Sutton.

"These facilities are excellent and it gives both the local kids and adults a platform to go on from here.

"There can be no complaints now, it’s about getting kids out there being coached properly and enjoying themselves.

"I’m enthused that Greg Dyke has come across to Lowestoft and I think he’s a hands-on Chairman who genuinely cares about English football and wants to improve it.

"This is a start and we all need to think about getting the kids out playing - these facilities are first class so all credit to The FA and the Premier League for putting the money in.

"It’s been mirrored across the country and people can’t have any complaints, no-one can turn around and, as they have in previous years, have a shot at The FA.

"I think he’s [Dyke] doing what he said he would and is trying to change and improve English football."

Former England Under-21 regular Sutton, who was capped once by the Three Lions at senior level, still has an interest in grassroots football with his sons playing in the area.

He saw youngsters aged between 5 and 11 take part in an FA Skills session on the new pitches alongside Dyke and former England captain Terry Butcher.

Youngsters enjoy the new facilities at Dip Farm in Lowestoft.

Youngsters enjoyed the new facility at Dip Farm in Lowestoft on Saturday

 

And he admits the new facilities and opportunities in Lowestoft are something to be savoured by the younger generation, who now experience a different upbringing in the game to what he did in the past.

"It’s completely different in the standard of facilities from when I was growing up," added the 41-year-old. 

"You saw a lot more kids playing street football and on recreational grounds then and I don’t think you see that anymore.

"That’s possibly why we’re not seeing the development of younger players that we should be so these facilities are perfect.

"I think there is an effort now where we are all trying to sing from the same hymn sheet and we all want the best for English football.

"We all need to make an effort, the coaching needs to be better at the younger age groups and The FA Skills programme seems to me like there’s an attempt to do the right thing.

"That’s all you can ask for. It might not have any affect in the next two, three or four years but it’s a platform for the next ten or 15 years when we might start seeing more players with better techniques and all-round players.

"And that has to affect the national team, as not enough English players are playing in the Premier League."

By Nicholas Veevers