Former Manchester United defender and owner of Salford City, Gary Neville, has resisted calls for a ‘B’ Team structure in the wake of the current pandemic.
Football in L1 and L2 is likely to change for good and the dreaded ‘B’ team structure has been floated before. It would involve bigger clubs playing their Under 23 teams in our lower divisions, much like they do in Spain. It’s a god-awful idea that would decimate the local game across the UK and fly in the face of everything our proud pyramid has ever stood for.
Neville, who never played outside the top flight during his one-club career, has revealed that he firmly believes ‘B’ teams should not be an option, whatever the financial implications of the current situation moving forward.
“[B teams] have been resisted previously when those sort of ideas have been mentioned,” he told Sky Sports.
“I personally would still resist it, to maintain the integrity of having a pyramid with promotion and relegation, which has been a fantastic thing for this country for the last 100-odd years, and people enjoy it.
“Whether you’re a supporter of Rochdale, Oldham, Manchester United or Liverpool, you’re proud of your club and the fact it stands on its own two feet.”
Neville went on to suggest that Premier League clubs with huge numbers of young players could perhaps loan them out free of charge, thus helping the grass roots game.
“If you could allow four or five players into, let’s say for example Salford, it would relieve hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. It’d be the same for Stevenage, Macclesfield, Oldham, every club in League One and League Two. That would be a half-way house between losing the integrity of the lower-league clubs and staying as it is at this moment in time.
“Maybe it could be a draft system or something whereby you can’t have more than one player from a certain club. It could be worked in such a way to make it beneficial, maybe a draft system to spread it out.”
The idea of a ‘B’ team entering the league system is abhorrent to all real football fans, so Neville’s words will be of some comfort to lower league supporters who perhaps sometimes feel under represented.
‘B’ Teams is a huge no, pure and simple. Football’s very appeal is in taking on an identity, belonging to your club. That’s become increasingly diluted in recent years at the top end and anyone who has seen an EFL Trophy game will know how soulless under 23 football really is. It’s no better than rocking up on a Sunday to watch Hykeham Tigers Under 11s – if anything there is a firmer identity within the kid’s game.
No, B Teams shouldn’t be allowed into our pyramid and the current crisis is not a political tool for big-time Charlies to start suggesting it. Kudos to Neville for coming out against the plans, even if his overspending Salford City are fuelling the problems facing some smaller clubs.