Sam Meadows discusses Dyke’s B-Team plans

Oxford United celebrate with a full crowd, but for how long?

Oxford United celebrate with a full crowd, but for how long?

IN THE PAST month the formerly anonymous Greg Dyke has become one the most polarising figures in football. In case you missed it, Dyke, the chairman of the English FA  announced proposals that will (we are told) save English football and deliver a World Cup win by 2022.

Whilst a thinking man might argue that England’s best chance of success in Qatar would involve a desert training camp, this is mysteriously lacking from Dyke’s proposals. Instead he has suggested four key points:

  • A League Three to include Premier League B teams
  • A stricter home-grown players rule
  • A limit on non-EU players
  • A more expansive loan system

To be fair to Dyke, the latter three of these proposals make a lot of sense. A revamp of the home-grown players rule has been a long time coming. If English teams are forced to use young English players in their squads, this can only lead improving national standards.

Similarly, the proposed limit of two non-EU players will embellish this.

A loan system that allowed a Premier League club to loan up to eight young players to a team below the Championship would surely work for both parties. Man Utd could see their young players play competitive football, whilst the fans of Luton Town would relish the chance to use these players towards a promotion push.

It is the planned introduction of B teams into the mix that has caused such uproar. Dyke’s proposal would make it allowable for Premier League and some Championship teams to enter B teams into the Football League pyramid. These teams would be introduced into a ‘League Three’ that would be sandwiched between League Two and the Conference.

Proponents of the scheme point to Spain and Germany, which have both seen B teams play in their league systems for some time. However, these countries completely lack the rich and diverse culture of lower league football that exists in England.

England can proudly claim that as a country it boasts four-and-a-half professional football leagues – the Conference being around half part time. Introduction of B teams would completely dilute this.

These teams would be mere shells of football clubs, with no history and very little in the way of a fan base – Barcelona B rarely play in front of more than around 1000 fans.

Optimistic supporters argue that lower league teams would receive a commercial windfall when they play Tottenham B. This would not be the case. How many fans are really going to travel to York to watch Tottenham B. Compare the numbers to established Football League clubs and the financial numbers could actually fall.

On a practical level, issues of promotion and relegation will become a farce. The rules regarding B teams would mean that they could not rise to within a league of their parent club. So an Arsenal B team could rise no further than League One.

This means that, should the top six teams in League One be B teams, there would be a situation in which the seventh placed team in League One would get promoted. This would lead teams who are not good enough into getting promoted.

The proposal also flies in the face of Financial Fair Play. League’s One & Two have very strict rules regarding wage budgets. In League One, a club can spend no more than 60% of their turnover on player wages, whilst in League Two the figure is 55%.

How any B team, which may have players on £10,000 a week contracts could adhere to these regulations is beyond me. Unless B teams are established clubs in their own right this proposal could never work.

Greg Dyke does not appear to care much for lower league clubs. In an interview with talkSPORT, Dyke described the majority of lower league clubs as ‘on the edge of bankruptcy.’ How a former Brentford chairman can state this is beyond me.

As a proud supporter of a lower league club – Oxford Utd, if you’re interested – Dyke’s proposals have angered me. Lower league fans everywhere should pray that this plan is rejected.