• Premier League

Man Utd want Football League B team

ESPN staff
December 4, 2013
Woodward believes a B team would help continue United's track record of success with youth development © PA Photos

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has revealed the club are giving serious thought about the opportunity to create a B side to compete in the Football League.

United believe such a side would thoroughly improve the club's youth system and also allow them to find new ways of developing home-grown talent in a competitive environment.

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Woodward's views will be of interest to the Football Association's (FA) chairman Greg Dyke, who is heading a committee to investigate ways in which home-grown footballers have a better chance of playing at an elite level - with only 32% of English players starting at top-flight clubs.

Woodward sees a B team as something which would be of great benefit to the club and admits the current system of youth development in the reserves is far from ideal.

"We need to have a look at it. We have strong views at Manchester United on the subject," he told the United We Stand fanzine. "If we could have a B team playing then it would solve a lot of issues. The reserves do deliver some of the objectives, the system just isn't as good as it could be.

"There is no clear and obvious answer. If you buy a top 18-year-old, a [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Wayne] Rooney, they could go straight into the first team. Or they could go into the squad at number 25 or 26."

However there is understood to be resistance from the Football League to adopt a system similar to that seen in Spain, meaning a model based on the Dutch system where Ajax had a formal relationship with lowly Almere City may be more likely.

Fears remain that B sides or formal links between clubs could stop a club replicating the incredible success of a side like Swansea City or Blackpool in rapidly progressing through the leagues.

In September Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: "The Football League is not keen to have feeder clubs. If you look at leagues which do have them, you tend not to get good attendances. We don't like the idea of it and I don't believe it would solve the problem - but we will look at it as nothing is off the table.

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