So the FA released their report this week detailing how we can work towards improving the game within our country. While there were some good ideas the idea that has generated the most headlines and hashtags in ‘League 3’. The idea basically is the create a new league below League 2 and above the conference, put 10 B teams in there and 10 conference teams and then allow them to carry on with the end gain being young players who are playing more regular and more competitive football. That end goal is a noble one but I feel like there are more effective ways of going about it.
The idea of having B teams is a good one, it works in Europe but in Europe the leagues are nowhere near as well supported as ours and this is the problem. Our third tier is more supported than many countries top tiers so any changes to these divisions was bound to be met with massive criticism.
As a lower league football fan I can relate to some of these fears, my biggest one is that the promotion spots will become congested with the B teams at the top and no real chance for other teams to gain promotion or compete. My club also makes a lot of money from well supported clubs bringing lots of fans to away days. A team like Luton or Cambridge will have a large away following but there is no way an Arsenal B team will bring any fans to Lincoln on a Saturday afternoon if Arsenal are playing at home. This will then slowly and surely begin to ruin the competitive nature that we have in the lower leagues, the competitive nature that makes them some of the most supported leagues in the world.
I believe the loaning players to lower league clubs is a better way to go. By loaning young players out to all levels of the football pyramid they will get the competitive experience without ruining the leagues as they already are. But this too has problems of finding clubs to take them and play them.
Honestly by sticking Arsenal B team in the same league as Tamworth (who I watched away and we’re awful) I can’t see how that will improve the players, they need to be playing against players and teams who will give them a real challenge.
My solution would be simple. Improve the coaching.
106 is the number of full time skills coaches we have working 5-11 year olds in our country. That isn’t enough for one city never mind the whole country. These 106 coaches are being paid £16,000 a year which is hardly an inviting salary either. Then when you factor in the cost of attending all of the courses to get the badges the problems and costs mount up even more. (I looked at gaining my coaching badges but for a student on a tight budget then costs were far too high and I’m sure I am not the only person who has had this problem)
At the end of the day more coaches who are trained to a higher level will result in more players getting to a higher level. The problem is money and this is where the building of Wembley stadium comes into my argument against the FA. £757 million is what is cost to build Wembley. Imagine they continued to use the stadiums we already have around the country and continued to keep the game for the country not just for London.
Imagine that £757 million was pumped into providing free coaching sessions and pumped into the academies around the country.
Imagine the number of new coaches we would have working with all ages of children, providing them with the skills they need to take the next steps into football.
Honestly I believe the problem is not in the leagues or loans but with the lack of coaches. (For perspective Spain have 23,995 coaches with UEFA B, A and Pro badges. Italy have 29,420. Germany have 34,790. England has 2,769.) This sums up the problems our national team are having and show the FA where they really need to focus their improvements.