Can the B League plan save English football?

Cauley Woodrow - went back in to Fulham's first team after a loan spell at Southend

Cauley Woodrow - went back in to Fulham's first team after a loan spell at Southend

First published in Sport

THE football pyramid could be re-invented after a new ‘B League’ was mooted as the answer to the national team’s failings.

The new league, suggested by a football commission, would see a new division set up between League Two and the Conference comprised of second-string sides from the Premier League and the Championship, as well as Conference clubs.

Greg Dyke, chairman of the FA and the man leading the commission, wants to introduce the new ‘fifth division’ as he feels it would give English players, aged between 18 and 23, the best chance to develop.

It is currently unclear as to whether League Two clubs would be relegated to the ‘B League’ and how far B teams could be promoted. Dyke presented his findings to the commission at Wembley yesterday.

Echosport reporters LUKE LAMBERT and CHRIS PHILLIPS sounded out some of our south Essex’s football managers to get their views.

PHIL BROWN FURY OVER PROPOSAL

SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has slammed the idea to introduce a new B league.

The Blues boss has reacted angrily to suggestions that Premier League sides could enter a reserve team lower than the league system.

And Brown hopes the plans are soon forgotten about.

“I think this is an absolutely appalling idea,” said the former Hull City chief.

“It’s another example of the rich getting richer and I just don’t understand how this scheme has even got this far because it should be a complete non-starter.

“It would be a farce if it happened. Who would support these teams and would they be allowed to get promotion and be relegated?

“I just think the whole thing is ridiculous.”

The scheme has been proposed to give young players more of an opportunity to develop in the early stages of their career.

But Brown feels the loan system currently in place already enables that to happen.

“I think we’re testimony to how the loan system can help players improve and develop,” said the Shrimpers boss.

“We had Cauley Woodrow from Fulham, who went back into their team when he went back, Rob Kiernan did the same for Wigan and Jamar Loza certainly benefitted from his loan spell with us from Norwich.

“Last season, it was the same for Britt Assombalonga and now we also have the likes of John Egan and Jakub Sokolik doing well.

“The loan system between clubs at the top might not be so good but that’s for them to look at and worry about.

“And this new proposal is not the answer and has clearly not been thought through properly.”

BILLERICAY BOSS CRAIG EDWARDS: TOO MANY QUESTIONS

Craig Edwards, manager of the Ryman Premier’s Billericay Town, is a firm believer in giving youth a chance, with only two members of his squad over the age of 24 last season.

However, Edwards has serious reservations about the ‘B league’ proposal.

“There are an awful lot of unanswered questions here,” he said.

“I have always seen the football pyramid in this country as one of the most stable across all the countries so I am not sure ripping it up to slot this league in would solve anything.

“There is plenty of top talent as you move down the league, including at our level, so it is unclear how this will enhance English football.

“The reserve and U-21 leagues work well at the moment and the loan system has never thrown up big concerns, so I don’t see why players who can make it need their own league if they can be sent to a lower-division club to get that experience anyway.

“If I honestly thought this would benefit young English footballers I would be all for it. But I don’t.”

CONCORD RANGERS BOSS DANNY COWLEY: SCHEME SOUNDS ABSURD

CONCORD Rangers boss Danny Cowley says the ‘B League’ system sounds “absurd”.

The Beachboys are only two divisions off the football league but the introduction of a fifth tier would make the league less competitive.

“What would happen if Man City were to send a team into the league?,” Cowley said.

“Surely their squad would still be full of millionaires and it would leave the other sides from the lower leagues with a very difficult task.

“If the Premier League and Championship sides went up it would only serve to make the leagues less competitive as they couldn’t gain promotion beyond League One.

“Reserve teams or youth teams shouldn’t be playing against first-teams in a league system.”

Cowley also questioned Greg Dyke’s motives for introducing the idea at all.

“We all know he is paid an awful lot of money by the FA and he has to come up with some big ideas to earn that wage but this isn’t for the better of all the teams.

“I think he needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.”

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