Opposition grows to B-team plan
A new competition for B teams for the leading Premier League and Championship clubs is to be considered by the FA board on Wednesday but there is already considerable opposition from the clubs.
The plan, part of FA chairman Greg Dyke's commission aimed at boosting the number of young English players at the top of club football, would see the new division placed between League Two and the Conference.
Other proposals would see the number of home-grown players required in league clubs' 25-man squads increased from the current minimum of eight and a shake-up of the loan system.
The B-team plan would involve the 24 clubs with a top-rated academy but there are concerns in the professional game that it would disrupt the traditional pyramid which allows clubs to be promoted and relegated through the divisions.
Press Association Sport reported that Conference and League Two clubs are expected to oppose well-resourced under-21 sides from wealthy Premier League clubs competing with them for league places.
There is also a feeling that there is a breakthrough taking place with young English players, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley promising a bright future for the national side.
Clubs in countries such as Spain and Germany do have B sides playing in lower divisions - Real Madrid and Barcelona both do, for example but they do not have the same historic and structured pyramid as English football.
Alan Algar, sponsorship manager for Conference sponsors Skrill, told BBC Radio 5 Live the plan was "disgraceful.''
He said: "I think it's a disgraceful proposal because it makes it very difficult for non-league clubs to feel part of the football pyramid. People all over the world look towards England and are envious of our pyramid and the way things work here. To insert a number of teams that aren't competitive and won't have a fan base just makes it very difficult.''
Football League chairman Greg Clarke said, in a statement released by the Football League on Tuesday: "The purpose of the FA Chairman's England Commission is laudable and is supported by the Football League, as we recognise the benefits a successful England team brings to the game in this country at all levels.
"Having been represented on the commission throughout the process, and having been regularly updated on its progress, the Football League board will have the opportunity to hear from Greg Dyke in person later this week.
"This will enable our board to better understand the rationale behind his proposals and also to ask some practical questions about their likely impact upon the league and its clubs.
"After fully considering the relevant issues, the board will then take a recommendation back to clubs who will determine the league's position on this matter."