Nobody is disputing the essence of the report, which is ultimately aiming to provide a solution to the Premier League's problem of dwindling number of English footballers in the top clubs. In fact, the key ambition of the report is one that should be praised - young English footballers need progression, they need development and they need support, and of course, everyone wants to see a greater talent pool of English footballers in order to aid England's chances of succeeding at international level. However, the majority of football fans are in unanimous agreement that these benefits should not come at the cost of our lower leagues.
|Dyke's plans for League 3|
Dyke's proposal centers around creating a "League 3" in between the Conference and League Two. This league will be comprised of Premier League "B" teams, similar to the models seen in other European countries, most famously in Spain, but also in France and Germany. The idea is that these B teams are made up of young English footballers, who would gain more competitive and consistent experience by playing our lower league teams. Dyke has also stated that the "B" teams can see promotion and relegation across the Conference to League One, but not to the Championship.
The proposal is a horrendously ill-thought plan, which could have drastic consequences to the building blocks that top flight football stands upon. Envisage a football season where no genuine League Two clubs see promotion into League One. This is because your Arsenal B, your Aston Villa B, and your Newcastle B have occupied all three promotion places into League One. Dyke says, "ah, but this will not happen, look at the Spanish league, it never happens".
I'm afraid that this, Greg Dyke, is assuming infallibility. You are basing your statement on the assumption that you are correct. Your statement is based on a premise of contingency, which as we all know, is inconsistent. Greg Dyke 's comment to Adrian Durham on talkSPORT maintaining that "B" teams simply will not occupy promotion spaces is like saying that just because you've never actually seen a black swan with your own eyes means that black swans do not exist. It is utterly absurd. Just because something has not happened before, or has a low probability of happening, does not equate to categorically stating that it will not happen.
The consequences of "B" teams occupying promotion spots are that our lower league clubs, who largely rely on extra funding as they generally do not make enough profit per annum to sustain themselves, will miss out on promotion bonuses which are imperative to either a) their survival, or b) their progression as a football club.
The second issue with Greg Dyke's proposal is attendances. Dyke seems to have forgotten that many Non League, or League Two and League One fans pride themselves on the fact that they are supporting their local, community club. He also ignores the reality that a number of lower league football fans began supporting their clubs as a protest at modern football. Incorporating "B" teams into League One and League Two is not only extremely offensive, but also stupid. Does he genuinely think that Luton are going to take 300+ fans to watch Aston Villa B away?
The other problem regarding attendance is that many football fans will simply view "B" teams similarly to their reserves and academy teams. The relevance of this is how many football fans currently attend academy matches? If Dyke wants to bring in "B" teams, he is going to need to find supporters to watch it. On the premise that the team is a "B" team, one can make the assumption that fans would only choose to support the "B" team as an extension of their support for their "A" team, or their top flight team. Therefore, on a Saturday, these fans are going to be watching Arsenal "A", certainly not Arsenal "B".
Furthermore, in Dyke's commission he proposes that in return for agreeing to his recommendation, Premier League clubs will pay money to lower league clubs (also known as, bribery). This is completely exploitative, and manipulative of said lower league clubs. In Dyke's interview with Adrian Durham on talkSPORT, Dyke revealed that a large majority of lower league clubs are facing bankruptcy. This means that he is acknowledging that many lower league clubs are in dire situations and desperately need money. Therefore, if Dyke is correct, he is leaving lower league clubs with no choice other than to accept the money from the Premier League clubs and agree to the proposal, despite the drastic consequences it may have in the future.
It has since been revealed that the Football Conference were not approached, or asked for any discussion regarding the proposal which is hugely disrespectful. To not discuss with the Football Conference, a proposal which the consequences of will completely disrupt their leagues, is utterly preposterous.
Uprooting the entire foundations of English football is not the way to increasing the number of English footballers in the Premier League, or creating a better international side. The road to increasing the number of English footballers in our top flight can be found through other avenues.
Dyke may want to consider investing more money into coaching our younger players. How about paying for our young footballers to be coached by the best in the country? He could also explore the possibility of the highly controversial, though equally effective use of quotas. Why not suggest that Premier League managers must play a number of young English players a certain amount of times per year, until the managers actually notice their importance, instead of relying on existing, established players. Why not venture down the avenue of investing more money into the existing academy and reserve structure in order to make it more competitive?
Explore any other avenue there possibly is, Mr Dyke, but please, for the sake of our history, pride, and for the sake of our football foundation that the Premier League proudly sits at the top of, do not uproot English football. Do not exploit, nor sacrifice our lower leagues, to benefit the Premier League.