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Time for change at the foot of the Football League?

Edward Anderson lays out the case for change at the foot of the Football League and asks if League 3 without B-Teams is really the way forward?

Against For League 3

With the Premier League still determined to crush the pyramid, how can we expand the membership, remove the glass ceiling and keep B teams out? Football League expansion just might be the answer.

Long before Lincoln City were making a mockery of the gap in the FA Cup, the case for expanding the amount of teams able to rise up from the Conference to the Football League has seemed to be unanswerable (see Luton, then of the Conference, beating Norwich, then of the Premier League, in the FA Cup a few seasons ago).

I don’t want to spend too long covering old ground but as the audience here may be more Football League orientated, I’ll at least set the scene. Currently, the two up two down system has created a bottleneck in which traditional Football League teams such as Wrexham (still averaging nearly 4000) and Chester are left to stagnate. Perhaps more poisonously, the system means that only those who financially dope their teams and take eye watering losses can ever compete for promotion, which has the effect of significantly undermining any community or fan owned model.

If Wrexham fans can see that the only way to compete is to cheat like Forest Green Rovers and pump millions into a loss making venture so that you (might) make the play-offs, then the poisonous effects this has on the games values should be there for all to see. It’s a testament to the tremendous love Wrexham fans have for their club that people continue to show up in high numbers season after season and certainly not down to the footballing authorities growing the game.

Contrast this with League 2, where four promotion places gives a chance for clubs smaller in stature to their rivals but well run (such as Wycombe and Exeter) still have a chance of success and making the playoffs. The fact that everyone knows one good season or even a few results gives them a real chance to compete means attendances are undoubtedly higher and our Football League is richer (culturally, not financially) than it otherwise would be. It also means that the much vaunted financial sustainability that the FA and all authorities supposedly crave is possible. If you can succeed without risking bankruptcy, then the incentives are there for fan ownership to grow. If they aren’t, then you get Stockport, Hereford, York City, Salisbury City and an endless list of clubs who have to bet the house to win and end up bust if they don’t.

Wrexham’s average crowd this season is enough to put them into the top half of League 2 clubs by attendance

So what, I here you asking, does this have to do with Against League 3? Well as we all know, a cancerous campaign to leech B teams into the pyramid has only just begun. The suspected big season attendance of the final of the Football League Trophy will undoubtedly be used as a justification for them to continue allowing clubs in the Premier League, who hoover up young players only to let them rot in youth football when they should be under contract at actual Football League teams, to put their young foreign players in Football League competitions under the pathetic notion of “helping the national side”.

Also, the whole point of League 3 from the powers that be perspective is to allow B teams into the pyramid, sweep pasts the Exeter’s and Grimsby’s to take their rightful place one league below their parent teams, whilst buying off a few of the bigger clubs in Non-League (or clubs prepared to throw the FA the biggest entry fee) and then shut the door for good. Rest assured none of the B-Teams will have more than three British players on the field.

So why not, at a stroke, beat them at their own game? Incorporate the National League (Conference)  into the Football League, make it four up four down so that clubs in League 2 now don’t have to worry about dropping into the financial nightmare and bottleneck of Non-League and add your Wrexham and Chester to the FL Trophy instead of B teams. Shrewsbury vs Swansea B is not a game any human should want to see, Wrexham vs Shrewsbury on the other hand…

The reality is that the lack of ‘excitement’ for the FL Trophy will continue to be the crowbar for B-Teams to leech into the system and destroy the Football League (probably before sodding off to a European Super League anyway), whilst the unjust and rigged glass ceiling of limited promotion from Non/League is creating poisonous incentives, damaging the long term health of the game. It’s time for the Football League to see off this threat, be proactive and give us the League 3 English Football deserves. It’s just not the one the Premier League demands.

Idiot: “Oh but what about B teams in Spain Ed? Aren’t they great?”

Well actually idiot, they aren´t but seeing as I’m living in Spain we can talk all about them, next time…

Agree with Ed’s view? Or are things just fine as they are? Leave a comment below and join the discussion!

About Edward Anderson

Edward has previously ran a blog on fan ownership, where he blew considerable sums of money to visit such as Dorchester and Barry Town United. He is currently laying low in Catalonia.

Follow Edward on Twitter: @eddyman00

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  1. York and Stockport haven’t gone bust have they? And Hereford didn’t really chase the dream for their financial woes. “Ex league” Chester did however.

  2. York have been in deep financial trouble, Stockport sank into administration and have only just started to claw back now the council have helped them. Whilst Hereford narrowly missed out on promotion back to the Football League before collapsing. You can add Kidderminster and their woes to this list to.

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