B Gone! : Why Reserve Sides in the Football League Would Ruin The English Game

Today, Greg Dyke’s FA commission of morons outlined plans to introduce the ‘B’ teams of Premier League clubs in to the Football League and Football Conference to compete among lower league professional clubs. Dyke and his cohorts believe this will serve to benefit the England national team and those poor old Premier League clubs who seemingly have their hands tied in the prison of too much choice.

To me it seems entirely nonsensical. The idea that shoving a team of up and coming players in to the newly formed ‘Football League Three’ to compete against the likes of Wycombe Wanderers and Torquay United will not excel their development. It certainly wouldn’t make them better suited for the transition to top-level football, well no more so than actually playing in the top-flight. Besides, what’s wrong with the existing U21 and U18 leagues? They’re competitive divisions for progressing players. There isn’t a huge gap in quality between lower league football and the top-end of youth football, so why risk undermining the entirety of the English game for the same results?

Help for Hodgson… Dyke thinks the new proposals will improve the national side. [Image: Getty]

Dyke’s committee seems to think that Premier League sides are unable to provide young English players with enough opportunities, so why not place greater emphasis on increasing the compulsory number of home-grown players in the matchday squad? Current Premier League leaders Manchester City had just four in their seventeen that beat Aston Villa 4-0 last night. A number that has been lower at times during this season.

The system isn’t unfamiliar in European football leagues with Spain implementing the system since the 1940s and only recently have Spain’s national side been a major world force in football. An impressively quick turn around, I’m sure you’ll agree. Another international giant in Germany is trying to move away from ‘B’ teams in domestic leagues citing money issues as a major problem. It’s also worth noting that Brazil, the world’s most successful international team has never had ‘B’ sides in their leagues and it has seemingly never hampered them. To put it plainly, the evidence to suggest ‘B’ teams improves national sides is not really there.

Tenuous links… Spain’s system took just 70 years to pay dividends. [Image: Getty]

Why seems even more unjust is the fact that the elite’s preference for foreign talent will only serve to damage the Football League clubs. It doesn’t seem right that teams such as Portsmouth and Sheffield United will deign to play Hull City’s reserves whilst Port Vale could face a Potteries derby against Stoke City’s second string in front of 63 people. And we’re supposed to believe these occurrences will better our fortunes on the international stage? League One and League Two boast higher aggregate attendances than the top tiers in Russia, Ukraine, Belgium and Portugal. The English league ladder is admired around the globe, the passion and intensity in lower league football is scarcely found away from England and the FA seemingly want to dismantle that just because Premier League sides won’t take a punt on home-grown talent. Attendances will fall as clubs are forced to play the overlooked players of the elite English sides, a prospect Football League fans will not be ‘excited about’ in spire of Danny Mills’ moronic prediction. Regardless, how much of a difference would it make to Aston Villa to have players like Jack Grealish play for their ‘B’ side rather than playing on loan for Notts County, who would actually care about their placing in the league ladder?

Furthermore, the boot is put in to the Conference sides too who struggle enough to gain promotion to the Football League with just two spots available, having traditional clubs like Grimsby Town, Wrexham and Cambridge United suffer because Newcastle United would rather turn to France than England for their personnel doesn’t seem fair.

Shafted… Lower league fans would suffer to benefit the top clubs. [Image: Getty]

The FA are out of touch with English football, the fans don’t want to see their proud clubs reduced to competing against reserves. It’s humiliating, unnecessary and more importantly unfair to the existing Football League Clubs. Whilst it might prove beneficial to the top tier clubs, it will do more harm to the lower leagues. Why is the FA so intent on furthering the gap between the elite of English football and the rest? Even now, as a fan of a Premier League club, I don’t want to see Leicester City B lining up at Spotland in 2017. England’s footballing body would do better to shift focus on player development and increasing top-flight opportunities for young players by putting a cap on foreign players in match-day squads. There’s nothing that English football fans love more than club football and ‘B’ teams would simply destroy that.

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