B Teams for Premier League, Championship to be considered

Mark Thompson

With England all up in a flutter about the quality of young players coming up through the ranks of the national side, talk of creating B squads has continued to increase. Now, on Wednesday, the FA will consider a proposal to implement B teams into the current structure of football in England.

In short, what's being proposed is this: Premier League and Championship clubs will field B teams, composed primarily of homegrown players, and those teams will play in a league between League 2 and the Conference.

Really, I'm not sure exactly how this differs from current reserve leagues, if they're not planning to have these B-sides play against anyone but themselves. There's also another option to combine League 2 and the Conference with the new B teams, split them into two regional leagues and go from there.

Why, exactly, the FA is not modeling their B team system on that of Spain is a bit beyond comprehension - except that it would take quite some time to implement, as it would likely require re-juggling of at least three tiers of football. See, in Spain, B teams can be promoted and relegated, with just one condition - they can't play in the same league as that of their parent club.

Such a system at least gives those B teams a reason to play, and to play to win. To advance both the quality of competition among sides playing in England and the competitive of the English national team, players need to ply their trade in a competitive league. It benefits clubs as they can develop talented youngsters who will already know the basic tactics and system encouraged in the top side (Barcelona, anyone?) and it benefits country as - it's hoped - more talented young Englishmen get a chance to shine. And to play, once the octogenarian leaves his coaching post.

In general, B sides make sense. But squeezing them into their own league in which they compete for nothing but the glory of a B league title...that doesn't make quite as much sense. Dismantling League 2 and the Conference makes even less.

Finally, there's one idea that makes no sense at all: increasing the number of homegrown players required to be included on a squad. Unless England does do something to improve the quality of players born and bred on English soil, they'll fast find themselves realizing that, if they try to regulate a balance between foreign and not-foreign players, any hope of remaining the "Best League in the World" is going to fade away.

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