Ahead of the continuation of the #BTeamBoycott for matchday 2 of the EFL Trophy – we answered some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the #BTeamBoycott, EFL Trophy and Whole Game Solution reform.
1. Why are supporters so against the EFL Trophy?
In 2014, after Greg Dyke announced plans to put Premier League B-Teams into the football pyramid, 34,000 signed a petition against the measures. The FA dumped the plans months later.
In the meantime the Football League had suggested placing B-Teams into the (then) Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as a compromise. These plans were quietly swept under the carpet before being unveiled without warning at the 2016 Football League AGM. This meant clubs had no time to canvass fans on their opinion.
The Football League said that the Trophy was in need of “rejuvenation” – which to an extent may be true. However the suggested reforms were ones that supporters had already said no to quite vocally.
Why should supporters of Football League teams pay to watch a competition that helps the Premier League before themselves? Supporters want to see their team play against teams with a true history and following, not Premier League youth sides.
In it’s entire handling of the EFL Trophy, The Football League has demonstrated an unacceptable lack of understanding and consideration for the wants and needs of it’s own supporters.
2. But wouldn’t B-Teams help the England team?
The England team would receive a far bigger advantage from a change in Premier League recruitment strategies. The Football League has NEVER produced any evidence that the EFL Trophy plans help the England set up, unlike the FA who tried to in 2014. (EDIT: The The Football League finally tried to produce some evidence, with a short video of the FA’s technical director shortly before this article was published. Prior to that, the Football League had spent months saying the plans would help England without any supporting information).
With the wealth of resources available to The Premier League – there is little to prevent clubs from taking on high numbers of youth players, that never realistically have a chance of progressing. Chelsea is well known for keeping over 80 youth players on it’s books, with very few of them ever making it to the first team (despite dominating European youth competitions).
While those players stagnate in Premier League U23 games, players at Football League clubs are gaining a wealth of first team experience. Most of the Wales international squad at EURO2016 that surpassed England, have played in the Football League for the vast majority of their career.
However, the FA and Premier League have refused to introduce measures that would combat player hoarding, such as a squad cap or youth cap. As such it is the Football League who must bear the brunt of the Premier League and FA’s failure to develop youth talent.
The other consideration is why should supporters of Football League and Non-League clubs and supporters pay the price for years of failure from the Premier League and FA to develop youth talent? The Premier League especially has all the resources it needs to develop youth talent, but simply refuses to play them inside the first team.
3. Wouldn’t it be better to support your team and protest the competition in other ways?
We do not believe so.
There is understandable concern at the effects and ramifications of boycotting games on teams. However it must first be considered that it was the majority of teams themselves who voted for the measures. AL3 has suggested that those concerned about the financial effects on clubs could contribute to the club in some other way.
Higher numbers of people attending the EFL Trophy gives cause for the Football League to see the competition as a success – as evidenced by Chief Executive Shaun Harvey pointing to increased TOTAL first round attendance as a positive for the competition (there were nearly double the number of games and average attendance per game was actually down by about 20% this season)
4. Where does AL3 stand on the “Whole Game Solution” proposals?
AL3 has extensively canvassed campaign supporters with regards to the Whole Game Solution plans. It should be noted that the Football League considers these as totally separate from B-Teams in the EFL Trophy.
Most supporters we have spoken to are against the vast majority of WGS changes. In our Supporters Survey 87% of fans told us they wanted their clubs to vote against WGS.
WGS is a very complex series of changes that fundamentally alter English football at all levels – not just the Football League. Non-League has been seemingly ignored in the changes despite the massive effect this would have on the National Game.
We argue it’s also inappropriate for the debate to take place considering the current corruption revelations surrounding the FA, Football League and Premier League. AL3 calls for competition reform for English football to be postponed until full investigations from the Daily Telegraph revelations have been investigated. The allegations should be seen as the highest priority by the governing bodies yet very little has been said publicly on the subject, especially from the Football League.
5. But didn’t the EFL say there would be no more B-Teams in the Whole Game Solution?
They did – but that doesn’t mean B-Team won’t still be in the EFL Trophy next season.
EFL communications staff went through great length at the Supporters Summit to explain to AL3’s Campaign Manager that the Whole Game Solution and the EFL Trophy were totally seperate ideas. The earlier statement only confirmed B-Teams would play no further part of WGS – and doesn’t mention the EFL Trophy.
Shaun Harvey actually confirmed this point this morning in a Q and A post on the EFL’s website.
Harvey: Similarly, I think the Whole Game Solution, which is a completely separate initiative, muddied the waters a little particularly around the issue of B teams taking part in the EFL. However, I hope that we clarified the EFL’s position by announcing that B teams would not continue to be discussed as part of the Whole Game Solution.
There is still due to be a vote on the EFL Trophy at the end of the season. Do not think B-Teams have been totally ruled out for next season, they havent.
6. What are you suggesting instead?
We have worked with several different organisations to promote change in English football. 55% of responses to our Supporter Survey suggested that the EFL Trophy should be replaced with a brand new competition – most likely including National League teams.
We continue to call for reform of the FA and particularly the FA Council – who disclose no minutes, attendance, agenda or voting records from their closed meetings. We also continue to call for changes to English football that benefit all parties, not just a select few, that would include fairer distribution of funding, the removal of EPPP, regulation of agent fees, decreased coaching costs, supporter ownership initiatives (such as Germany’s 50+1 rule) and the mandatory donation of one of the seven Premier League TV packages to free-to-air UK broadcasters.
We also stand for more accountability and safeguarding towards the ownership of clubs.
7. You’d still all go to Wembley if your team made it though wouldn’t you?
Maybe, but only to stand outside in protest with a placard in hand 😉