Issue #36 The B team and the eighteen man squad

As told by Michael Wood

The elected conclave at the FA which is charged with the task of improving the England team’s performance are reported to be considering allowing a layer of B Teams to be injected into the middle of the English football pyramid which would see teams relegated from City’s league perhaps playing against Man C B.

Somewhere around the bottom of the professional game – the idea is – Premier League and Championship clubs and probably Crewe Alexandra would be allowed to field teams made up from the members of their squads who were not registered in the twenty five man squad for the Premier League. It would be a league in which the now retired wastrel Wayne Bridge would have spent most of his career and for that reason along I can not fathom why anyone would be interested in watching it.

Nevertheless with the idea that there is a level of improvement to be had for English football in Wycombe Wanderers vs Everton’s players who are not in the first twenty five – and one suspects that that improvement is focused on the Evertons rather than the Wycombes – seems to have taken hold based on some rather weak analysis of the more geographically broad German and Spanish leagues on how they allow B Teams. The small size of England means that we do not have to regionalise our leagues until a much lower level.

I confess that not only do I think it is not needed but I also fail to see how it would be beneficial. For sure first team games are the corn of development for footballers but B Teams are not first team football by definition. Pushing the Reserve League into the gap between Gateshead and Cambridge United and the aforementioned Chairboys is not going to make the football more essential.

The loan system, for all my distaste for it, is a much better way of getting players development matches that matter. Taking a lead from that idea – and if the growth of playing talent really is that important to clubs that The FA are prepared to create gap between the Football League and the Football Conference – then perhaps a better idea would be to only allow clubs to retain fewer over eighteen year old footballers?

If it is important that the likes of Andros Townsend and Tom Cleverley got first team football – which they both did on loan – then my not tell clubs that they can have (for example) eighteen over eighteen year olds pushing players away from the the squad of teams higher up and giving them competitive games further down the pyramid? One suspects the interests of clubs keen to have other peculate their talent would rule that discussion as well it might, I’m not suggesting that is the only way forward, just that it proves that there are things more important to English football than the development of English football.