A new competition for B teams of Premier League and Championship clubs will be considered by the Football Association tomorrow. One proposal is for these second teams to play in a league sandwiched between League Two and the Conference. Another option is to merge the B teams with League Two and the Conference to form two regional leagues. The plans are part of FA chairman Greg Dyke’s commission looking at ways to improve the national team’s fortunes. It is understood the Premier League and Football League clubs are broadly in favour of a new competition, which would give greater competitive opportunities for their young, home grown talent. But they have deep reservations about how it might fit into the pyramid and the knock-on effects to other leagues and competitions.
So should this idea be put in to place?
B Teams are incorporated in the lower leagues of countries such as Spain (e.g Real Madrid Castilla & Barcelona B), The Netherlands (e.g Jong Ajax & Jong PSV) and Germany (e.g Bayern Munich II & Borussia Dortmund II). These three nations have been the most successful on the international stage over recent years, and having B Teams in their leagues has clearly helped with the development of players int0 world beaters.
- A key thing for young players to have is regular, competitive football. Incorporating B Teams into our current system, gives youngsters experience and will make the jump from B Team to A Team a lot easier and players will be able to cope with pressure more. This may also help us again on the international stage, with players knowing what it takes to compete on a competitive level week in week out.
- Reserve teams are not only used for young players, but also first teamers that are recovering from injury. This opportunity to play competitive football will ease them back into the action at a slower pace, but also making sure that they are fully recovered before returning to the first team.
- Where would these divisions fit. As aforementioned, there are proposals to either fit in a league sandwiched between League Two and the Conference or to merge the B teams with League Two and the Conference to form two regional leagues. Neither of these would be particularly beneficial for Conference teams, and it would make it harder for teams in the division to break into the football league, which no body wants. A theory is that eventually League Two may just become a B Team heavy league, with the Conference filled with teams who have been ‘unfairly’ relegated.
- How far can these B Team’s get promoted? The reserve teams of clubs such as Chelsea or Manchester City probably would excel in League Two, so who’s to say that they may even join their first team peers in The Premier League, which may seem entertaining, but just rules out the opportunities for other clubs. In countries where B Teams currently compete in the same league system, there are rules about this – e.g In Spain, reserve teams play in the same league system as the senior sides but must operate at least one level below the first team, and they cannot be promoted to the top flight.
- If you were being honest, would you actually go to watch a B Team fixture. Perhaps a few, but no one would have a B Team as their ‘first’ team. No one would buy a season ticket for these teams, as they play all their fixtures at different grounds. Tickets are cheap so little revenue would be made, whilst you may even get no supporters at away games at League Two clubs. For example, are any fans from the South coast going to make a 660 mile round trip to watch the Southampton B Team play away at Carlisle United? Across the two legs of this season’s Under 21 Premier League Cup between Reading and Manchester City, the combined attendance was 7,907 – so imagine how little people will watch a middle of the season fixture between two B Teams.