Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Football League may be considering a u-turn on their willingness to allow B Teams to participate in its competitions. The concept of B Teams was part of the FA's England Commission Report that was published last year, and championed by FA Chairman Greg Dyke, and put forward the proposal for club's with EPPP Category 1 academies to be allowed to field formalised reserve team structures within the English football pyramid system.
That proposal was savaged by supporter groups and by much of the national media, and by the time it reached the June 2014 Football League AGM it was booted out, in what appeared to be a fairly emphatic rejection. However, the vote that was tabled only related to changes to the league pyramid system, with the Football League having in parallel introduced their own proposals which involved inviting Premier League sides into their Football League Trophy competition. That proposal was never formally dismissed.
Last month, Football League Chairmen met at the FA's St George's Park venue near Burton, where they rejected plastic pitches and agreed a new central fund package. However, according to the Dons Trust - the fans run group that ultimately owns AFC Wimbledon, they indicate that the subject of B Teams was back on the Football League agenda, with their meeting notes disappointingly stating that their club had been the only League Two side to openly go against the proposals. A report from the Trust states:
"There was discussion about that day’s Football League (FL) meeting which was understood to have authorised the FL executive to finalise proposals to allow Premier League ‘B’ teams to enter the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with AFC Wimbledon being the only League Two club to vote against. It was agreed that Kris Stewart would talk with other trusts to help us decide whether this is something for the Dons Trust to follow up."
During last year's proposals, which appeared to be backed by Football League Chairman Greg Clarke and his Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, most of the concern appeared to be whether the FA or the Premier League were willing to underwrite the losses that might be incurred if a Premier League's B Team did not attract a significant attendance, or where the strength of such sides effectively froze out Football League sides from being able to get a lucrative day out at Wembley Stadium, with the inevitable risk of the likes of Arsenal B vs Chelsea B contesting the final. Great for Sky Sports, but pretty lousy if the likes of Bristol City or Walsall - this year's finalists - were denied their chance to take a cash windfall and promote their club at a Wembley final.
As yet, there's not been any word from the Football League on this subject, but with Wimbledon having informed their fans that such proposals are on the cards, the League will need to make their position clear soon. Our understanding is that last month's meeting was not a binding vote, but gave the Executive Committee enough remit to go ahead and produce firmed up proposals.
Link: Football League Propose B Team Introduction For JPT.
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