Dyke on back foot over B team plan

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Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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FA chairman Greg Dyke looks to have admitted defeat in his attempt to introduce B teams into the Football League.

Dyke’s England Commission announced the findings of the second part of their report into the problems facing English football on Friday.

The document, released at an event in Sheffield, centred on plans to improve grassroots football, but it also contained an update on the proposals included in the commission’s first report – which attempts to address the lack of English players at elite level.

Dyke announced he wants to implement a £230million plan to significantly boost the number of artificial pitches in England’s biggest cities.

The FA chairman also revealed plans to appoint a head of education, who will be responsible for improving coaching standards at grassroots level.

But it was the failure of Dyke’s B team plan which was the most eye-catching part of the 60-page publication.

Dyke announced in May that he wanted Premier League clubs to create B teams, as is the case in Germany and Spain.

The plan was for those teams to compete in a newly-created ‘League Three’, which would have been regarded as the bottom tier of the Football League.

But after considerable opposition from clubs, the Premier League and the Football League, Dyke has given up plans to insert B teams into the league, but he is hoping to come to a compromise, with the second strings possibly competing in competitions outside the pyramid, such as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“The report recognised that this element of the proposals could not be imposed by the FA,” the report read.

“We urged the leagues to consider the proposals, which they have done. It was and remains for them to decide.

“It is clear that the overall reaction from many clubs was not favourable although the proposal has been supported by many managers and coaches in the Premier League.

“The main resistance to the proposal related to protection of the traditional pyramid, which the leagues and clubs weighed against potential advantages that the proposals might bring.

“Discussions are ongoing regarding the introduction of B teams into competitions outside the pyramid.”

In a press conference to launch the document, Dyke defended his initial idea to insert B teams into the pyramid.

“If you look at the German side that won the World Cup, every single one of those players played in B teams,” he said.

“But in the end we can’t force the clubs or the leagues to do it.”

Dyke reported good progress was being made on plans to curb the number of non-EU players in the Premier League – something he thinks will help arrest the “worrying” decline of English footballers playing regular top-flight football.

And the message was also much more positive on the future regarding grassroots football.

The commission wants to introduce what Dyke called “fairly radical changes” to the way football is played at grassroots level up and down the country.

The FA thinks young footballers will be given more chance to develop of they play on third-generation artificial grass pitches (AGPs), rather than normal turf.

Dyke proposes to increase the number of AGPs from 639 to 1022 by 2020.

He also aims the number of AGPs to increase by 130 per cent in England’s 30 biggest cities.

The 10-man commission, which includes Dyke, England manager Roy Hodgson and former captain Rio Ferdinand, concluded after extensive research that too many of England’s grass pitches are in a terrible state after years of under-investment.

“It is expensive, but if we can get it done, it will make a big difference,” Dyke said.

The FA hopes the new pitches, which will be based in ‘football hubs’ across 30 cities including Sheffield, which will host a pilot scheme, will be funded by the Premier League, local authorities, private sponsors and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) among others.

The Premier League gave the plan its backing. Chief executive Richard Scudamore said: “We were consulted by the FA Chairman’s England Commission as part of its research into the provision of grass roots facilities and coaching and welcome proposals to enhance both areas.”

Dyke denied the PFA’s claims that artificial pitches were unsafe or could even allow players injured on the surfaces to take legal action.

He said: “I am surprised the PFA said that because the chairman of the PFA (Ritchie Humphreys) sat on the commission and we were all in favour…

“We found no evidence that you were more likely to be injured on an artificial pitch than on a grass pitch. We have certainly got no fear of litigation.”

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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