Trust statement on FA Commission proposals for Premier League B Teams

On 8th May 2014, an FA Commission, led by FA Chairman Greg Dyke, released a report with several proposals aimed at improving the England men’s team.

The Board of ITFC1st are concerned about one particular proposal: that Premier League B sides should be introduced to the Football League/Conference. A new league – “League 3” – would be established in the 2016-17 season and would initially feature 10 Premier League B teams and 10 from the Conference. Twenty of the 25 players in each B team squad would have to be home-grown and all of them would be from the EU. Nineteen players in each squad would have to be aged under 21.

Like many other individual fans and supporters’ groups, ITFC1st believe that such an unprecedented change to the League structure is likely to have a detrimental effect on lower league and non-league football clubs. The Board are also disappointed that the FA Commission did not discuss this idea with the Conference or take into account the well-expressed views of other key stakeholders, including groups representing supporters such as Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation.

Supporters Direct’s have said: ‘The introduction of Feeder Clubs or B-teams will serve to reinforce the system of player development that currently results in the stockpiling of talent. We have a depth in our professional football system that should mean we have the deepest talent pool coming through but it isn’t happening. That is not because we don’t have feeder clubs for the top clubs, it’s because the coaching and infrastructure is not right. This can only be changed with a strategic game-wide approach, overseen by the game’s governing body.’

A group called Against League 3 (@AgainstLeague3 on Twitter) has organised an online petition and earlier today announced that they already had enough signatories to fill Portman Road. If you haven’t signed it yet, and you would like to “say no to B teams,” please do so now.

Several campaigns against this proposal are being organised. We will try to keep you informed of them and urge anyone concerned about this possible development to join in.

The sporting integrity of our lower leagues, and the English pyramid, is something quite unique in world football: we think this is among the things that is fundamentally threatened by these proposals.

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