A proposal for Premier League clubs to play B teams in the English Football League is a “hideous” idea, according to one chairman.
Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano said football in the top flight was not a sustainable business even before the coronavirus crisis and suggested the introduction of second-string sides would rectify that.
However, Dale Vince, chairman at Sky Bet League Two Forest Green, believes the idea would destroy over a century of heritage and a better solution to the unsustainability argument would be for the Premier League to filter down more cash.
“I think it is a hideous idea. It might be great for some clubs in the Premier League but it is not great for the EFL,” he told the PA news agency.
“We don’t just want to become an extension for B teams of the Premier League. I just think it is wrong.
“If you look at the clubs in the EFL they all have strong football identities, most have been around 100 years or more, and there is a proper culture in the EFL and it represents football across the country.
“It would exclude a whole bunch of clubs that currently represent different parts of the country, different communities with different heritage. It would reduce diversity in the EFL.
“If the Premier League have got problems playing some of their players that aren’t ready for the Premier League then they should focus more on getting them to play in the Championship.”
Premier League clubs already play under-21 teams in the EFL Trophy, with varying degrees of success, and that was an unpopular move for many EFL clubs but an extension of that would face significant opposition.
League One and Two sides have started to get to grips with the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic and the wage and squad cap introduced this season will go some way to helping that.
However, having seen the Premier League spend £1.2billion on transfers in the summer window, Vince feels a fraction of that cash could be put to better use safeguarding the long-term future of the game at a lower level.
“It is an incredible sum of money,” said Vince, one of the key speakers on The Good Business Festival’s Raising the Game panel on Thursday.
“It just makes my point: chuck £100m a year into League One and Two and we’d have the sustainability everyone wants and we don’t have to have a B league to do it.
“That would be socially responsibility for the Premier League. If they are actually concerned about sustainability of lower league football then do something about that. It is not much money for them.
“It would make a huge difference and with the wage and squad cap function in League One and Two it wouldn’t take a lot of money to push each club into the black.
“Suddenly football would be in a healthier state financially. It wouldn’t take a lot of money, 50-odd clubs in League One and League Two, £2million a year is £100m – that’s not even a parachute payment.”