FOOTBALL Association chairman Greg Dyke faces a battle to push through plans for elite clubs to field B teams in a new fifth division after they met with immediate criticism yesterday.
Dyke revealed the proposals as part of his blueprint for increasing the number of Englishmen in the top flight, a move designed to help England to win the World Cup again.
But the Football League, who took part in Dyke’s seven-month consultation, called the recommendations “not acceptable”, while MPs criticised the lack of emphasis on coaching and England great Gary Lineker labelled the B league scheme “nonsense”.
Dyke, who targeted increasing the number of English players in the Premier League from 32 per cent to 45 per cent by 2022, cited Manchester United and City, Liverpool and Tottenham in favour of B teams.
“This decline is a problem in countries right across Europe but is a significantly bigger problem in England than anywhere else, and if the trend continues we fear for the future of the English team,” he said.
Dyke, who needs support from the Football League and Premier League to see his vision realised, wants a fifth tier of 20 teams below League Two split equally between elite B teams and Conference sides. Twenty of 25 players in each B team would have to be home grown, and 19 out of 25 aged under 21. The former BBC director general also proposed a reduction of non-home grown players and a maximum of two non-EU players in top-flight squads, with no non-EU players allowed in lower divisions.
England manager Roy Hodgson said he welcomed the plans, while Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand, one of the experts on Dyke’s panel, said “anyone who cares about the game” knew the shortage of Englishmen needed fixing.
Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey praised the report’s aims, but, urging further debate, said it “may not contain a solution that is acceptable at the current time”.
Shadow sports minister Clive Efford accused Dyke of ignoring grassroots – something the FA chief has vowed to address in the coming months – and said a singular focus on the elite game would “come to nothing”.
Lineker acknowledged “some important points”, but added that they “have been ignored because of this B team league nonsense”.
Fifth tier to include elite B teams, whose squads must be almost entirely home grown and under 21
Overhaul of work permit system to limit Premier League teams to two non-EU players and prohibit them outside of the top division
Reduce non-home grown players in Premier League squads from 17, the current threshold, to 12 by 2021
Clubs to develop strategic loan partnerships with lower divisions clubs to give youngsters match time