Football Conference faces shake-up after FA unveil controversial B team plans

THE Football Conference looks set to face a radical shake-up after the FA unveiled proposals aimed at increasing the number of home grown players in the English top flight.

A commission set up by the FA charged with the tasking of increasing the number of players available to play to the national team has revealed some radical ideas.

One proposal is the introduction of a fifth tier to the Football League in the 2016-17 season.

The new League Three would be made up of the top ten teams from the Football Conference and ten B sides from Premier League clubs.

Any other top flight outfit that did not make the new set-up would also be able to introduce their B sides into the Conference Premier.

Kidderminster Harriers and their Conference rivals are concerned the plans would break up the traditional link between the non-league pyramid and the Football League.

Conference chiefs were set to discuss the proposal in an already scheduled meeting today.

Alan Alger, who works for Conference sponsors Skrill, said earlier in the week when the ideal was first mooted: “I think it's a disgraceful proposal because it makes it very difficult for non-league clubs to feel part of the football pyramid.

“People all over the world look towards England and are envious of our pyramid and the way things work here.

“To insert a number of teams that aren't competitive and won't have a fan base just makes it very difficult.”

The B teams would not be able to play in the FA or League knockout competitions but may be able to participate in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. They would also not be allowed to vote on important matters in the new division or Conference.

Second teams playing in the senior football is commonly used in the Dutch, German and Spanish Leagues.

With teams in the Premier Leagues stockpiling large number of home grown youngsters but numbers of English top flight professionals steadily decreasing, the FA is hoping this plan will provide a way of helping them get vital experience.

The B teams would have squads of 25, 19 of which must be under the age of 21. At least 20 of the 25 teams should qualify under the FA’s Home Grown player rules.

The commission was made up of FA chairman Greg Dyke, England manager Roy Hodgson, former national bosses Glenn Hoddle and Howard Wilkinson, plus ex-England internationals Rio Ferdinand and Danny Mills.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke, Professional Footballers' Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys, FA vice-chairman Roger Burden and Crewe Alexandra's director of football Dario Gradi were also part of the group.

"We recognise that making changes in football is often a slow and difficult process but we urge those in the football world to consider our proposals constructively and with open minds," said Dyke.

"We urge them to balance the specific, narrowly-defined concerns of their particular club or league with what will be of the most benefit to the game overall, to the development of young players and to the success of the England team."

As part of the proposal, the FA want to develop strategic loan partnerships between clubs, as well as developing home grown players and limiting non-EU players.

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