B sides: Seven reasons why the Football League got it wrong

B sides: Seven reasons why the Football League got it wrong

Rob Fielding opposes the recent decision to allow Premier League Academy sides (aka B sides) into the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy.

Rob Fielding writes…

I am massively disappointed with the Football League vote to allow Premier League B sides to compete in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (aka the Football League Trophy, there’s a clue there Football League chiefs).

This competition was taken seriously by League clubs – at least in the closing stages and I doubt that Premier League B sides will do the same…

Here’s why I think it’s idiotic…

1. For most Football League sides, including Port Vale, this competition represents the only realistic chance of lifting a domestic trophy at Wembley. If we got there how bitterly disappointing would it be to play Crystal Palace B rather than another League club? With these changes and the removal of the FA Cup replays in latter rounds (surely the Premier League will continue to demand more FA Cup changes too) there now is little chance of glory outside of the league for most clubs.

2. As a result of the chance to win at Wembley, this competition was taken seriously by League clubs – at least in the closing stages and I doubt that Premier League B sides will do the same. The Football League Trophy competition has now been completely changed and is essentially an non-competitive competition used by sixteen clubs to give the “kids a game”.

3. It is surely no coincidence that the Premier League’s decided to add £1m to the prize pot and the Football League duly voted in favour. What precedent does this set? Are the Football League prepared to compromise the integrity of other competitions as long as the Premier League offer enough cash? What price for destroying the Football League with the introduction of B sides? £50m? 60m? £100m? Done (probably)…

4. Even if the Football League want to trade in order to access Premier League cash, the sum offered was laughable. From TV rights alone each top-flight club will earn £170m next season. So, each of those multi-millionaire clubs is offering a massive £50,000 to get their Academy side into a domestic cup competition. Even a mere 1% of their TV revenue would have been £34m.

5. The public won’t accept it. Ask me how many would turn out for Middlesbrough B against Port Vale at the Riverside? A hundred?

A far better way would be to have stronger reserve leagues or shock, horror for top-flight sides to actually introduce and play kids in their first-team…

6. It won’t benefit the England side and it won’t benefit the Academy sides either. A far better way would be to have stronger reserve leagues or shock, horror for top-flight sides to actually introduce and play kids in their first-team rather than over priced veterans…

7. Finally this does nothing to address the real problem with football – the sheer wealth (and with it undue power) and influence of the Premier League. Parachute payments are destroying competitiveness in the Championship as the clubs without them pile up debts to try and compete. Now the Premier League has snaffled the JPT for a laughable £1m. The League Cup has been devalued by weakened sides. The FA Cup has been weakened by a change to the Final kick-off time and the removal of replays. With those three competitors weakened by the Premier League what chance that the fourth competitor to Premier League dominance will be next? Yes, with this precedence, what price that B sides in the Football League will be the next demand?

This plan is unworkable, it’s soul destroying, it has destroyed a winnable competition for Football League clubs and all for a bit of extra cash.

The chairmen who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves.


Oppose the plans

Sign the petition against the plans here


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