Dyke: Plans have big-club backing

Wimbledon Guardian: Greg Dyke, pictured, revealed the findings of his England Commission on Thursday Greg Dyke, pictured, revealed the findings of his England Commission on Thursday

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke claims he has had backing from the top clubs for his plan to introduce B teams - even if the leagues do not like it.

Dyke said teams including Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City were enthusiastic about the proposal and believes club power can win the day even though the Premier League refused to be part of his England Commission.

Dyke has set a target of increasing the number of English players in the Premier League from 32 per cent to 45 per cent by 2022 in his Commission report, and believes B teams are one way to achieve this.

He unveiled a raft of proposals at Wembley, aimed at boosting the number of English players at the top of club football, including the introduction of B teams in a new 'League Three', special loan relationships between clubs, overhauling the work permit system and increasing the number of home-grown players in squads.

Asked if he feared the leagues would block his proposals, he said: "I don't think that will happen. Do I think every bit of this will happen no, do I think a lot of it will - yes. You have to distinguish sometimes between the leagues and the clubs.

"Let's remember - we invited the Premier League to sit on this and the Premier League chose not to. When I met them last week they said 'why didn't you consult us?' and we said we did consult your members and secondly we wanted you on this, to be part of it.

"You must look at the distinction between the league and the clubs, a lot of the clubs want this.

"There is a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the big clubs for this.

"Liverpool, the Manchester clubs, Stoke, Tottenham - they have no problems with me mentioning them on this - so quite a lot of clubs recognise the problem they have got."

The target, which includes increasing the number of English players playing regularly in the Premier League from 66 currently to 90 by the year 2022, was described as "ambitious but realistic" by Dyke.

He added: "The evidence from clubs combined with our own investigations is the lack of playing opportunities for young English players aged between 18 and 21.

"Many of the clubs we spoke to called this the 'Bermuda Triangle' or 'black hole' of English football.

"The gap between the academy and the first team has widened significantly in 20 years.

"A B team is distinct from a feeder club, it is part of that club and as a result of having B teams 18 to 21-year-olds Spanish players play two and half times more competitive football than their English counterparts."

The target is for 90 English players playing over 50 per cent of minutes in the Premier League compared with 66 today - and of these 30 should be playing in the top six teams in the Premier League compared with the 18 today.

The most controversial proposal would be establishing a new League Three in 2016-17 made up of 10 Premier League B teams and 10 from the Conference. Of the B team squad, 19 of the 25 should be under the age of 21 and 20 of the 25 should qualify for the home-grown rule and no non-EU players allowed.

The Football League reacted by saying the report "does not contain a solution that is acceptable at the current time".

In terms of home-grown players allowed in each Premier League squad, the Commission recommends a phased reduction in the number of non home-grown players in top-flight squads from 17 to 12 - starting in 2016/17 and reaching that target by 2021.

On work permits, the Commission proposes a cap on two non-EU players per squad, and that no players on overseas visas should be allowed to play below the Premier League, nor loaned to any other club in England.

Dyke also announced a proposal for the development of "strategic loan partnerships" between a club in the Premier League or Championship and up to two other clubs in the lower leagues. They could loan the smaller clubs up to eight players at any time of the season - all have to be under 22 and home-grown.

Dyke hopes to win support from Football League clubs by suggesting the Premier League should make a "significant financial settlement" to clubs in the lower divisions to make sure they do not lose out financially from the re-organisation.

The Commission will deliver findings on developments on its proposals in the autumn.

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