Dyke's Qatar World Cup stance signals battle for English football

Greg Dyke

The Football Association's new chairman Greg Dyke told the BBC's Today programme on Radio 4 on Saturday that everyone in football knows the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar cannot be held in the summer.

Try telling that, though, to the Premier League, which fears that moving the tournament to the more moderate winter climate could unleash three years of chaos on its already crammed fixture lists.

But then Dyke's comments are not really about the plans to play a World Cup in the desert. They are designed to stir a debate far closer to home - namely who controls English football.

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By choosing an issue over which he has little if any influence (the Fifa president Sepp Blatter has already set in motion a process that is likely to result in the winter switch) Dyke has nevertheless picked a fight with the Premier League and its combative chief executive Richard Scudamore.

The Premier League is implacably opposed to moving the World Cup to the middle of the season - but realises it is unlikely to have any real say over the matter.

Uefa's president Michel Platini (who voted for Qatar in the 2010 decision) has been banging the drum for moving the competition from the summer for ages and what Platini wants he tends to get. If Europe's powerful leagues hoped for support from the Frenchman they can forget it.

Dyke might be only a few weeks into his post as FA chairman but he has chosen a subject on which the League is relatively isolated.

The League says Dyke's opinions are his own and that when push comes to shove, the FA board may have a different view. That might well be the case but again whatever the FA or Dyke think is largely irrelevant because this is a decision that will taken by the Fifa executive committee - in other words by Blatter.

It may not be finalised in October but the Fifa president has already indicated his desire to open the discussion at a meeting then.

By taking such a clear public position against the Premier League so soon into his tenure, Dyke is sending a message to Scudamore that the FA will lead on matters of national interest.

So how will this play out?

One suspects a clever politician and businessman such as Dyke will have more eye-catching pronouncements in the weeks ahead. There are likely to be more flashpoints.

But has he just made his job much harder? After all the FA and its chairman are normally judged on how the England team perform at World Cups.

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For that he desperately needs the support of Scudamore and the Premier League - whether it is through the release of England players for international matches, the development of home-grown players through the academy system or (and most controversially of all) perhaps a new quota limiting foreign players.

Scudamore repeatedly says he wants to see a successful England team and that the FA and the clubs share the same interests, but there has been scant evidence of this over the last 20 years.

While the Premier League's chief executive rightly points out that England were hardly world beaters in the two and a half decades before the competition came into existence in 1992, the lack of progress on the international stage is shaming when one considers how English clubs have grown in terms of stature, success and wealth.

This is the really difficult issue Dyke must grasp and show leadership on. By falling out with Scudamore over Qatar, he may just have made that task much more difficult.

Remember, the last FA chairman to pick a public spat with Scudamore - albeit one that was much more targeted at the clubs - was Lord Triesman. He gave a speech in 2008 questioning the Premier League's financial controls and levels of debt.

He never recovered and two years later was gone.