England Should Follow Spain's Lead on B Teams for Top Clubs

Guillem Balague@@GuillemBalagueFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 8: FA Chairman Greg Dyke smiles during the FA Chairman's England Commission Press Conference at Wembley Stadium on May 8, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Tom Dulat/Getty Images

I am amazed about the response to the debate over B teams in English football. The Football Association thought long and hard about it, before chairman Greg Dyke announced the plan on May 8.

"This isn't about players even for four years' time," Dyke said, per BBC Sport. "This is for players for 10 years' time... this is to win the 2022 World Cup, by which time I'll be long gone."

But the FA's plan has largely been dismissed with old theories about its potential effects.

Former England international Gary Lineker, via Twitter, called the proposal "nonsense."

I've now read the full FA report. Some important points in there, that have been ignored because of this B team league nonsense.

— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 8, 2014

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin called the plan "disgraceful and a complete joke," as per The Independent.

But the media are more responsible than most, because debate about English football should be a priority in their agendas—instead of killing an idea from the start.

England is not the only country with a pyramidal structure in the domestic football league. B teams work in other countries and the world didn’t end.

Lionel Messi came through the B-team system at Barcelona.
Lionel Messi came through the B-team system at Barcelona.David Ramos/Getty Images

The budgets for Barcelona B or Madrid Castilla don't automatically make them richer or better than most in their division. If you can't compete with those teams, perhaps you have to look at yourself and see why you can't. Nobody should be in fear of improving or taking on a challenge.

If the fear for many is that they will not be able to get players on loan from big teams, then maybe they should think that there is something wrong with the loan system in the first place. What is the point of giving on-loan players that the original clubs can't control, to clubs that play differently, with managers who are not experts in developing talent or without a priority to do so?

But for the B teams to work, the mentality has to change in England. This is the big difference between the English mentality and the Spanish mentality. In the Spanish mentality, the B team is a last step to develop young players. It's an important period. In the English mentality, the B team is only a reserve team for the first team.

The B team in England is not created to develop young players; it is created to recover players for the first team. It's a problem about mentality. To develop young players, what's needed is time, a plan and work, and the B team is a very important step in the process.

Players in the B team can move between the first and second (that is, B-) team without any restrictions, but if a player from the second team moves to the first team 10 times in the same season, he must stay with the first team. It's a rule.

Every team has its own philosophy but usually B teams are made up of young players. Some teams allow older players to support the young players, but these old players are no older than 24 or 25. There aren't any age requirements to play in the second team

In Spain, it is not obligatory to have a second team but all teams have one as a philosophy measure.

I don’t offer final solutions but hopefully a different angle to an idea which I think would help develop young talent. Players improve when they are surrounded by others of the same quality, where they work under the same idea or philosophy and certainly when they can compete at the highest level possible.

And one of the problems in England is that players aged 16-18 hardly play at all.