Greg Dyke’s B teams suggestion has certainly got people talking. Early responses seem to mostly be against and few have argued their case better than a club Chairman who has posted the following thoughts.
Dear Mr Dyke,
I read about your proposals to insert B teams of Premiership clubs into the Football Conference with interest. With interest and horror !
I started watching Sutton United when I was nine. For almost a quarter of a century I went to just about every game, home and away, with my dad. I watched them at Wembley, followed them in Italy and have trekked from Spennymoor to Truro and from Barrow to Dover, and a multitude of places in between. The club’s star centre-forward has become a good friend for thirty years and my boyhood hero was a guest at my wedding. I have sold programmes, been a steward, painted railings and pulled down an old wooden terrace. I have done just about every job at the club you can think of. Why? Because I had dreams. And I’m not alone, there are many like me at Sutton and the same picture is repeated at non-League clubs up and down the country. Oh, by the way, I am now chairman of the board and that’s something my dad and I couldn’t have dreamt about when I was nine years old.
But football is all about dreaming. It’s about cold, wet nights in the middle of Essex or the prospect of a six hour journey home after being thrashed somewhere in Yorkshire, It’s about the days when those memories become all the more special because your team has just won the league or, dare I say it, knocked a top flight club out of the FA Cup. As the great Danny Blanchflower famously said “The game is about glory.”
Your proposal gnaws away at that glory. It makes it all the harder for the smaller clubs to have those special, unforgettable days. Sutton United has just missed out on promotion to the Football Conference but we will go again next season, and the season after that until, one day, we get there again. And when we do get there we want to take our chances against all the other clubs who share the same dreams. Not Everton B.
Injecting B teams from Premiership clubs into the Conference, or creating a new division between us and the Football League would make it harder for the multitude of non-League clubs to realise their dreams. As Chairman of the FA you represent every one of these clubs just as much as you represent the giants of the Premiership or the national team but your plan betrays them. We can’t compete with Arsenal B in terms of the quality of player, their wages, their coaching or their fitness levels. These teams will dominate at this level. Will they be promoted if they win the league ? Surely yes, because the alternative is worse. That takes away the promotion dreams from the clubs who aspire to reach as high as they can. And, although it’s almost unimaginable, if Chelsea B finished bottom of the Conference would they really want to play in Conference South, or even the Ryman League? What happens to the pyramid system when this experiment eventually runs its course ?
I beg you Mr Dyke, kill this ill-conceived plan now or be remembered as the man who killed the dreams.
Chairman, Board of Directors
We’ve got our own views at PST but we want to hear yours.
It is on the agenda for tomorrow’s National Council meeting of the Football Supporters’ Federation and I will be there expressing your views.
Send your thoughts now to firstname.lastname@example.org