Please Mr Dyke, Do Not Destroy Our Football Pyramid

This week, an FA Commission's report was released featuring Greg Dyke's radical proposal of a complete re-organisation of English football. This week, football fans of lower leagues once again witnessed the sacrifice of their beloved clubs for the benefit of the elite Premier League. This week, the entire football pyramid has been completely disregarded purely to satisfy International football.

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.


  1. Absolutely right, just because we see a model being used in Spain, Germany, etc, does not mean we can jump into a similar set-up and expect similar results. The underlying problem, in my opinion, is the composition of Premier League teams, ie, the paltry 35% or so of players that are English, compared to the well upwards of 60% homegrown players we see in the aforementioned Germanys and Spains of this world. Lower league football remains relatively affordable, and equally exciting for supporters as the PL, providing a cheap avenue into regular class spectator sport, and whilst financial issues have been the bane of teams like Pompey, Luton and Wimbledon in the past, who is to say that lower league football can be changed for the mere whim of an overpaid media executive whose only experience of football was a manager merry go round at Brentford. Those who say the lower leagues/FL have little or no impact on big name English players are moronic - Chris Smalling, Maidenstone, Adam Lallana, Saints (playing for a time in League One), and Phil Jags are to name a few who did not come from United or Arsenal or Chelsea, but will be integral to in the World Cup this year. Dyke should spend more time fixing our current infrastructural, philosophical and financial difficulties in English football before creating new ones.

  2. Completely agree. I follow (casually) a team in Spain’s Segunda Division-having met them on holiday once. This is the division that the Real Madrid and Barcelona B sides. Note it is the equivalent of the Spanish Championship. They have to register their players for the whole season. It is not that common for the players to make the step up to the A side. Additionally the Real Madrid B side (know as Real Madrid Castilla ) is currently looking like being relegated.

    I support Oldham, and we have had a few notable loanees of recent times from Man City and the like. The precious and cosseted attitude of the majority of them does not bode well for their future. I find it hard to believe it will be massively different if they are in a B side. I challenge Mr Dyke to name the players progressing from Castilla to Real Madrid in the last 5 years. To be strictly fair, in the past it has helped, but lately less so, I believe it is an outdated model. It is entirely possible there are less promoted know, it is for the very reason that they struggle at Oldham. Whilst I cannot prove it, the FA have no information to disprove it. Above all, it is my suspicion, it is a convenient way to sell off players to other clubs, rather than just release them. Money talks, but shouts very loudly at the FA. FA just about sums up how they feel about any team under the Premier League.

  3. Best thing I have read this year! Agree with you 110%

  4. Here's my rant!

    Premier League b is the FA looking after the Premier League teams yet AGAIN.

    Not content with wrecking the competitive nature of the top flight the FA now want to wreck the Football League as well, in the hope it fixes the problem of young players not playing competitive football.

    Any why don't young players play enough football, well it's because the rich clubs are hoarding them because guess what they've got all the money, and why are they doing that, well it's because the rich clubs changed the rules in 1992 so that whoever had the most money should win the league.

    For the FA to come up with this premier league b idea is beyond belief since they are supposed to be the trustees of the game as a whole. But of course it's not beyond belief is it, after all it's the FA that created the Premier League in the first place.

    The FA needs to work on the basis that we love football for the competition, for the fact that teams can go from the top of the pyramid to the bottom and back up again, for the fact that the little clubs can beat the big clubs, that Wimbledon can go from non league to Premier League and Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa can conquer Europe. It is the FA's job to look after the game as a whole, since they don't do this we have the ridiculous inequality we have in the game.

    Let's face it, we all know that whoever has the most money wins the Premier League, and amusingly, now that Man U etc no longer have the most money they want to change the rules hence financial fair play. There is no competition in the premier league. 15 out of 20 teams don't want to win the league they just want to avoid relegation. The other 5 teams don't want to win the league either, they just want to get in the champions league, so in fact, not one premier league team actually wants to win the league, but don't worry, because it's the best league in the world and the competition doesn't matter when you've got all the money and with all that money you can pay all the young players to NOT play football! You couldn't make it up!

    Rant over!

  5. I believe you are right. My comment is that you just need to look at the qualified coaches for young footballers in Germany compared to England. I am not sure of the exact numbers but it is something like 24,000 in Germany and 4,000 in England. The population of Germany is higher than England, like 82 million in Germany and about 50 million in England which would account for some of the difference. In the first instance we need to quadruple the number of qualified coaches teaching in schools and youth football clubs. It would be money well spent and would be better in the long term than messing up the football pyramid.

  6. If this is meant to improve the England team then it's the wrong target. Our young players need decent coaching to develop skill and tactical awareness. That should be the focus. And if they can't get 'competitive' opportunities as they mature how about going abroad where they can learn how the rest of the world plays the game. During the Euro ban of the 80s some went abroad and returned much improved.

  7. Couldn't agree more. Dyke should go back to the BBC. The saviour of English football does not start Mr dyke with creating a B league.... It starts by enforcing financial Commitments by the premier league clubs to lower leagues and grass routes. This will enable better education and coaching improved facilities for all young players. Not just the elite few. Get your shit together. It's not rocker science. We need a grass roots player or club tax.

  8. if this daft idea actually sees the light of day then non league clubs should all resign and form their own breakaway league

  9. Invest in better coaching and better facilities at grass roots. The club's have too much power over kids football, they take them away at 9 years of age and most of them disappear after their dreams are shattered when they are released. They simply fall out of love with the game. Junior football clubs need to be FA charter standard but professional clubs don't. How can that be right? .

  10. What a disgraceful and ill thought out plan. It has more holes in it than a tramp's vest. Who would watch Premier League clubs B teams when fans are watching the first 'foreign legion 11'? What good would young English players get from playing their football at 4th tier level. Oh yes great preparation to play against the likes of Spain, Germany and Brazil!
    The solution to the problem is very, very simple put a tighter restriction on the number of foreign players they can have in their starting 11 and on the pitch at any time. This would ensure that only the best imports were signed and there would be greater opportunities for home grown talent.
    Why can't the FA see that they are following the past Italian route to disaster? Perhaps it's because of all the paid TV monet cloding their distorted view.
    It time for a rebellion from all fans and the Football League themselves otherwise how long will it be before the top 6 clubs fill the top 12 places in the Premier League??? A very healthy though' eh Mr Dyke

  11. I live in Spain and there is NO local football such as you see in the UK.I would say that nothing exists below that of Conference standard.No County,park or Sunday football.
    It does benefit the National team and the top sides,but it removes a whole layer of football enjoyed by the masses.