Whither Grass Roots...........................

Like you I guess, I have been attempting to digest the latest proposals from the F.A . on the future of football in the U.K, launched on the world by Greg Dyke, the man currently number one at `Suits House' .

Greg Dyke.

The four key proposals are:

• A new League Three to be introduced in 2016-17, combining the top half of the Conference and 10 Premier League B sides.

• A beefed-up home grown players' rule requiring 13 members of the 25-man squad to have been trained in England as youngsters by 2020-21.

• A more strictly enforced work permit system that would prevent Premier League sides from having more than two non-EU players.

• A new loan system that will allow Premier League clubs to loan up to eight players to a strategic partner below the Championship.

Supporters show views at Play Offs !
Whilst there is a certain amount of logic and common sense contained in proposals 2, 3 and 4, the first one, the highly contentious `League 3' item, is nothing short of an abomination in my view - falling over backwards as it does to service the Premier League( the monster spawned in haste and greed some years back , with F.A. approval), whilst simultaneously aiming another potentially lethal blow at the lower divisions and grass roots of the game in the U.K.
The stand out sterling feature of the current national set up is the pyramid that offers all comers from park team upwards, the chance to progress all the way to the Premier League. At a stroke Clubs like Stockport County who have ambitions of regaining FL status, and are hard at work in that direction, will be condemned to years and years without a chance of making it back where they belong, with Greedy League B teams hogging the promotion places each year, if these slack jawed ideas take flight!

The problem, we are told, is finding enough good young English players, and then fixing it that they get suitable competition and thus progress. The solution, in my view, is in the Premiership clubs own hands......let them ,with FA blessing, start a `stand alone’, league for B teams, perhaps on the lines of the old Central League that for yonks serviced the reserve teams of the then First Division, perfectly well in the fifties and later. But they have tried this, or something similar, however half heartedly, and soon withdrew from the enterprise. Running a B team is high on costs but low on commercial opportunities, hence the bind as far as they are concerned. They should re-visit this avenue instead of lumbering lower league clubs with this footballing albatross. Oh.....and a few less expensive imports from overseas might help as well!        
Fernando Torres...a snip at 58 million Euros !

Another view , a day or so ago, came from t H  posting on the excellent Marionsboard.......... t H  wrote the following,  .....

`It properly stinks doesn't it?

It strikes me that the FA lost any genuine domestic football power they had when the Premier League was formed. The changes that are needed should be at the top of the game, where the amount of English players needs bumping up.

But they can't demand much from these powerful clubs because the league is run by the clubs, not the FA. They are toothless.

So instead, they're preying on the vulnerable clubs at the bottom of the professional pyramid. They did the same with EPPP. They'll no doubt threaten the solidarity payments FL clubs receive to force through changes.

I want England to do well but what needs to be changed for that to happen is nothing to do with Wycombe Wanderers, Hartlepool United or Northampton Town. And even less to do with Dartford, Nuneaton or the likes of County.

I think they know what needs to be done but don't have the power to do it, so instead of sitting on their hands they're doing something.

Whenever changes are suggested in football, there is often resistance before eventually change happens. The back-pass rule, goal line technology. There was always for and against. On my twitter timeline today it's been red hot with opposition. I've seen absolutely nothing supporting it.

I reckon the strength of feeling will for once stop this happening. Not one fan representative was consulted....... nobody from the Conference was asked what they thought, yet Rio Ferdinand and even better... Danny Mills were on the panel-two people who have earned millions of pounds from the game. The people who should decide the future of the game are the fans. Not self interested  people with a vested interest and some vague, cack-handed idea that wholesale changes will somehow mean England will win the World Cup one day.

It's pure English football admin this. Businessmen with little grasp of reality making bold decisions with not a hint of lateral, original thinking. Just looking what works elsewhere and going "We should do that" '.
tH opened his article with the words `it properly stinks doesn`t it', and I thoroughly agree in fact I would characterise the `League 3' portion of the F.A . proposals as resembling a malodorous turd, and a none fibrous one at that, based on curiously sourced material - Page 63- graph from Wikipedia being just one!

FA Source............
Thankfully the response from supporters and supporters groups has been immediate...strong and pretty unanimous in condemnation of the League 3 notion.- the quickly actioned online petition getting massive support. So......if you haven`t already done so...please consider supporting the petition, via the web site 

and see this ill considered League 3 idea off!

Ian Brown


  1. As ever, Ian, a thoughtful and well argued piece.

    The FA are now completely toothless, knowing that they have to bow before the wishes of the elite from the Premier League. As TH says, The day that the PL was created was the day the game started to die in this country. All the old values went out of the window; the concept of Clubs being a central element in the community disappeared; and the National game became just a conduit formoney making.

    The really sad part is that all the Sky billons could have been used to develop the game from grass roots upwards. If this had been done then the development of youngsters would now place the England team in a good place for the World Cup, rather than facing the usual inglorious early exit. Instead ll that money has gone into the pockets of players on obsene wages; to fuel the cancer of agnts in the game and to fill the pockets of foreign owners.

    So we're now faced with a proposal which will isolate grass roots football even more. Frankly if the FA had any balls they would retract this load of rubbish, and start challenging the all powerful PL. Aren't the FA supposed to bE the custodians of OUR game?

  2. Spot on Charter.....and for the F.A. to deem it correct to spew this nonsense out without so much as a word with the Football Conference or, as far as I can ascertain, any supporters grouping of significance, is beyond reprehensible!

  3. Since when were the fortunes of the England team more important than the integrity & sustainability of the League? Oh yeah, that'll be that stuff called money again..

  4. Well written Ian, you beat me to it as I waited for the red mist to clear. In some ways I was quite surprised at Greg Dyke given his strong Brentford links then I remembered they have just been promoted into the Championship and if they remain there effectively stay clear of this proposed nonsense. Don't know why I am shocked at a set up that mires itself in self serving greed and hypocrisy, has a committee that included a multi millionaire that 'forgot' to take turn up for his drug test and.. er Danny Mills. Quote of the whole sorry saga surely belongs to the Accrington fan who stated that the culmination of his dreams would surely take place were his team to take on Stoke City reserves ! Strange really when we congratulate our near neighbours at t'ethiad for winning the Premiership albeit by breaking the fair play rules to be penalised by .......... a fine. If you implemented this proposal and say wind the clock back 11 or 12 years you would have had the bizzare possibility of Manchester City reserves playing at a higher league placing than the 1st team. A none starter me thinks but cynical as ever I wonder if this a strategy to reduce/put out of business/ relegate to oblivion the likes of us.


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