For years many have been calling for the Premier League to have a more profound reserve or development league.
On Friday, PL Chief Executive Richard Scudamore confirmed that plans are in place to set up a Premier League ‘B’ division, that would see an Under-23 league, plus four overage players, compete alongside the current PL setup.
That notion has a lot of people talking.
In England there are already three professional tiers below the PL, with the SkyBet Championship, League One and League Two hosting the countries other 72 professional teams. While below that in the Conference, most of the teams are full-time. But what Scudamore is suggesting would have no impact on the Championship and the promotion and relegation, but instead it would provide an extremely competitive level for young academy players to develop in and give them the chance to play against older players at a young age.
Only the PL teams that have been classed as category one in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) would be invited, as well as the five Championship teams and one League One side who are in that bracket, as these 22 sides currently compete in the Premier League’s U-21 division.
Talking about the plans, Scudamore had the following to say about upgrading the U-21 league to become the Premier League B.
The minute you call it ‘Under-21’ people think it is no use. It needs a better name and a better focus. All clubs recognize that. We need proper kick-off times, using main stadiums, anything to create an experience that is more competitive and more like the first team so it doesn’t come as such a shock. And those players in that group should be interchangeable with the first team.
The 22 teams this ‘B’ league would be made up of, are PL teams Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Brom and West Ham. While Football League clubs Bolton, Blackburn, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Reading and Wolves would be included.
With many Spanish teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona fielding their B sides in the second tier of Spanish soccer, and the same happening in the Bundesliga, the PL is looking to follow the same model which has seen so many young players develop and prosper in Spain and Germany during recent years.
I think it’s a good idea, and the notion that these games will be broadcast on television and be played in home stadiums also suggests this will be a very strong ‘B’ league.
Will it ever take over the Championship and form two tiers of the PL? Who knows. But these plans are already in place and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen very soon.