A post-Rio plan: Commission member Ferdinand tackles fans’ anger at FA’s League Three proposal

Rio Ferdinand has urged football fans to ‘join the debate’ on England’s future after the FA revealed their four-point plan and was met with anger over the commission’s controversial ‘League Three’ proposal.

Ferdinand, a member of the commission, has backed the introduction of Premier League B teams into the Football League pyramid, the development of ‘strategic loan partnerships’ and changes to homegrown player and non-EU players in squads in a bid to tackle the faltering national side’s fortunes.

A ‘lot of interest and enthusiasm’ for the idea has been shown by Manchester pair United and City as well as Merseyside giants Liverpool, according to FA chairman Greg Dyke.

“The gap between the academy and the first team has widened significantly in 20 years. Many of the clubs we spoke to called this the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ or ‘black hole’ of English football,” said Dyke.

And Rio took to Twitter to urge his 5.45million followers to add their voice to the search for solutions to English football’s problems:

The B team squads would require 20 out of 25 players to qualify for the home-grown rule and no non-EU players would be allowed. Nineteen players would have to be under-21.

The commission also recommended a gradual reduction in the number of non-home-grown players in Premier League squads from 17 to 12 by 2021.

A cap of two non-EU players per squad has also been proposed, plus a ban on non-EU players outside of the Premier League.

The B team division would be positioned between League Two and the Conference and it has been proposed that it would include ten Premier League reserve sides and ten teams from the non-league’s premier division, while the sides could only gain promotion to the Championship.

A mix of B teams with other clubs is widely-used in Europe with Spain and Germany’s structure cited in the report as a template to follow.  However, only England has four fully-professional divisions.

The report also insists that some of the leading players produced in Spain have spent spells at second sides, including Argentina’s legendary Lionel Messi, Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata and City striker Alvaro Negredo.
With only 32% of starters qualified to play for England in the 2012-13 Premier League season, compared to 69% 20 years ago, the proposal would allow greater opportunities to play for young English prospects.
But fans have already hit back with stinging criticism of the plans with many claiming it would ‘kill the lower leagues’.

As well as Ferdinand, the FA commission was made up of FA chief Dyke, national boss Roy Hodgson and former Manchester City defender Danny Mills.
Veteran managers Dario Gradi and Howard Wilkinson, former England coach Glenn Hoddle, Football League and PFA chairmen Greg Clarke and Ritchie Humphreys and FA vice-chairman Roger Burden were also on the commission that sought contributions from more than 650 people across all levels of the sport in England and abroad.
England will face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D of the World Cup in Brazil that starts in 35 days’ time.
Main image courtesy of rio ferdinand presents #5 magazine via YouTube, with thanks.

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