Often Partisan

Modern Football Is Rubbish

I was alarmed to read that the Manchester United vice-chairman Edward Woodward has come out and publicly backed an idea that would see “B teams” of the big clubs playing in the football league – similar to the system used in Spain.

The proposal was mooted as the powers that be look into what can be done to improve the standard of players coming through the ranks in England with the idea to significantly improve the fortunes of the national team. The thought is that by allowing a “B” team to compete in the lower divisions, more young players would get first team football and would progress into the first team.

Of course, what hasn’t been mentioned but no doubt is on the minds of those that moot an idea like this is that it won’t be a case of more teams being added to the league; more that a lower league team will be co-opted into a nursery structure for a “big team” in much the same way as minor league sides use players farmed out to them by the major leagues in American sports such as baseball.

I have to admit that the whole prospect frightens me – not because I think there is a danger Blues could end up as a feeder team but more because the whole direction football is taking. I’ve spoken before about the relative impermanence of player’s careers with single clubs and I can’t help but think we’re seeing a situation gradually developing whereby clubs will become little more than franchises in a sports entertainment industry rather than clubs in a league.

I don’t believe for one second that “B” teams are the answer to the national team’s problems; if anything I think that they will only exacerbate what I see as the true problem in this country – in that it’s not just English talent that is hoovered up by a select few clubs and because of that players have to be farmed out on loan to get game time. Chelsea for instance have 25 players currently out on loan (of whom six are English), Manchester United have 8 out on loan (5 of whom are English), Manchester City have 14 out on loan (5 of whom are English and 6 are Ghanaians who are loaned out to avoid work permit restrictions) whilst Arsenal have 13 players out on loan (5 of whom are English). That means between four clubs no less than 60 players are being loaned out on temporary deals – yet of those less than half are English – which to me debunks the whole idea that “B” teams would be full of bright young English players.

I see the idea of “B” teams as something that will further entrench the current hegemony and ensure that the rich clubs will stay a league apart from those below them; maybe even increasing the gap. For me, I think what needs to happen is actually a reversal – in that teams should be restricted to a squad of say 25 first team pros at the most with rules in place to cover extenuating circumstances. That would hopefully allow players to be more widely dispersed between teams on permanent deals; okay, it would probably ensure that players would no longer be able to be paid ridiculous amounts of money as youngsters but I think we have to get to a situation where we don’t have teams like Blues surviving on the scraps of those above them but being forced into offering lower deals to players and maybe ensuring that financial fair play does exist.

At the moment it’s just an idea that is being kicked around – much like the “39th game” was but we are on a slippery slope. If we want to preserve the traditions of football as they are in this country we need to fight back against the tide of money in football – and that is not going to be easy.

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47 Responses to “Modern Football Is Rubbish”

  • motozulu says:

    Premier league gets what the Premier league wants. I don’t think it would bother them in the least what the football supporters think or even the other football clubs who aren’t in the prem..

  • chris says:

    Couldn’t agree more Al.
    The UEFA, FIFA ruling on the transfer window for me is to blame as top league clubs cannot replace players when injuries occur, so they keep massive squads ‘just in case’ and this stifles talent and as you say mops it up for the top few clubs.
    If they want one simple thing to give more English players a chance just ask Immigration to be tougher on permits and exclude players who come from outside Europe who can’t get into the UK as you mention with ManCity, so they go and play in Italy or Portugal etc where the resrtictions are weak, then after two years or is it five years they get a EU passport and can then play in the UK. We should ban these types of abuses of the system.
    Uefa have tried with this ‘homegrown’ rule but it includes foreign players who have been at a club for five years, so if you join Arsenal at 15 by the time your 20 your a ‘homegrown’ player!!!

  • Agent McLeish says:

    Any ‘suggestions’ made by the so called top clubs will be made to preserve their own privileged position. The EPPP is an example of the implementation of such a suggestion.

  • tonyd says:

    Edward Woodward – you may have been OK in the Equaliser and the Wicker Man, but this is a terrible idea.

    Your reference to entrenching the current hegemony Dan reminded me of when I was a nipper, and found a wallet stuffed into our privet hedge in Moseley. I handed it in at the local nick, and the station sargeant locked me into a cell as a joke.

  • Roy Smith says:

    One thing’s for certain, if Man Ure want to introduce a new idea it will be to no one’s benefit except Man Ure’s.

  • kroforever says:

    The league can not stop clubs from signing EU players,
    but they could have a rule that only allows players from the
    home countries to be loaned out.
    That in turn would stop the big clubs from buying foreign youngsters
    that would not get into their squads

  • andy says:

    The only good idea would be for Sky and those select Premiership clubs to break away and restructure the League so that, 1: It gives other clubs other than the select few a chance of winning the Premier League and 2: A cap on player salaries to make the game more affordable to football supporters.

    • jimbo says:


      If you allowed this, within a few years there would be a premier league two, then three… if you take the money away for the football leagues then the players aren’t going to opt to play in a lesser league with less cash…

  • kirkus says:

    modern football is rubbish,take the beloved football league table as an example from the vile down the sole aim is to get to 40 points,and do it all over again next season,we will never see another notts forest from 78 to 1981 x

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Said it before. In the past, football was almost exclusively a service for paying supporters. Supporters were mainly working class and hence a lid was kept on finances. Today football is a TV offering that just happens to have paid supporters n the ground. TV payments are astronomic so the players live like African Republic Presidents, wallowing in riches, whilst the masses who prop them up struggle. We dont count for anything. DNM&KRO

  • gazza says:

    It´ll never happen -The quality of league football in England is far supperior right through the leagues ,something that the continent doesnt have .Plus attendance for games is the highest in europe.
    And Andy! Just no that would be the death of football.

  • Chris W says:

    If I recall many moons ago, all clubs had a reserve league, before I was allowed to travel away I would go to St Ans to watch them play.
    The solution for the National teams is a cap on how many foreign players are allowed in the starting squad.
    Every team, Premier and Championship, MUST play at least ONE player from each of the home nations.
    If the big 4 or 6 want players to gain experience then let them form their own league, this idea will push even more lower league clubs to the brink of extinction.
    Supporters in the lower leagues appreciate their local heroes, The players are not aloof or high and mighty as so called premier elite, simply because they can’t afford the lavish lifestyle.
    Football really needs a reality check, the premiership is no longer available for the working class, I’m happy paying £20 to £30 for a game, could I afford to watch the Man U or Arsenals where the cheapest tickets start around £80.
    Football has changed over the years, not all is for the best for the average supporter, time for the average supporter to fight back, what these clubs have to remember is without the supporters they are nothing.

  • dave mann says:

    blues being a feeder club for vile, ide rather be hung drawn and quatered than ever see that
    happen, it wont because i still believe that blues themselves, in better times will propably be
    the feeder and not the fed to other smaller clubs.KRO.

  • mike b says:

    hi all……….the guy at barnsley…mr rimmington…been at the club since playing in goal in 1945?……what a gent….probably on a fiver a week but did play in front of 65,000…..ok no one had anything else but to look forward to saturday at 3 o’clock but sounds good to me………..

  • peter Pawelczyk says:

    My feeling on this matter is that their should be a European salary cap for players, the player who wants to be a footballer and who is good enough will want to play football for a living, growing up the love of the game starts at a young age and at that young age you dream of playing for the club you support. Now as their are 4 English leagues i believe the salary should be 20k for prem, 10k for champ and lower for the lower leagues and at the end of the year where the team your playing for finishes represents the bonus you pick up at the end of the year. say 500k for each player winning the premiership, this will make the players play harder, also believe that you should have at least 2 local lads in the starting line up for each game, meaning of local is that of the persons home county, this gives people in the area someone to look up to and by doing this you boost your chances of creating better footballers in your county area.

    We have to try and get the footballer back in love with the game first because if they arn’t loving the game what in hells chance have we got watching it, i would rather watch someone who is enjoying their football then someone who is out their who doesn’t give a shit and thinks oh well at least i pick up another 80k this week.

    And with my plans someone wanting to be a professional footballer still has the knowing if they become professional they still have the chance of picking up 20k a week, which to normal folk is astronomical amounts so they won’t be hard up.

    Like anything i believe the football bubble will burst, just like the economy its only a matter of time.

  • Frankie says:

    To some degree, this already happens, except that big Premier Clubs loan out their players to gain experience a la Lingaard.
    We need to rid ourselves of our Chinese ‘burden’ and get back up to the Premiership whilst the ladder is still there.

    • MattNL says:

      Agreed – the loan system as it is ensures it is pretty much happening already. I don’t know the stats but guess that almost every championship squad uses all 5 loan spots and mostly from premier league teams. Your solution on a maximum senior squad size would help alot and stop this hoarding of players by the richest clubs. It would help level the playing field a little bit and surely that’s good for all of us fans who care about the game, and the dream of winning something again in future. Would be good for alot of young players too, getting the chance to develop on the pitch in games that matter.

      • DoctorD says:

        Yes big clubs are loaning out lots of players — but having specific B teams in, say, League One is a bad idea for two reasons.

        1. It means “big clubs” become ever more entrenched as “big clubs”, denying fans of smaller clubs the hope that they might one day join the elite.

        2. Unless you expand the league, it will over time mean shoe-horn existing clubs out.to make room for those B teams. Can you imagine the top six prem teams having B teams in League One? Unless it expanded to 30 teams, you’d have to kick out six to make space.

  • ken says:

    They should revert back to the old days and reform the old Central League and Football Combination. this would mean the players who sit on the bench to earn thier wages.
    Also people who are unable to go to away matches would be able to go to a match when
    the first team are away

    They should bring back the old Central League and Football Combination,this would mean
    that players who sit on the bench to earn thier wages would get some games.
    Also people who are unable to travel away would be able to go to a match

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Those were the days. I too used to go to reserve games every other week. As a kid, I could never understand why Blues were in the Football Combination, but the Vile in the Central League. Saw some great games too, with real reserves… not loan players.

  • Bradley says:

    I don’t even think it’s a hard solution.

    Should do what they do in other countries combined into one.

    Maximum of 2 NON EU signings a season regardless of age which would then make clubs priorities the non-eu signings they make which would mean less NON EU youngsters coming in. – France

    Maxiumum of 6 NON Home Grown Players in the Starting XI and 2 on The bench – Turkey


    Max 5 foreign players in the first 11
    Max 3 non-EU players in the first 11 – Greece

  • Tony says:

    Football now is of a higher standard than it has ever been, Ithink that there are to many overseas players here however they do bring a lot to our league.
    Im old enough to remember the Hungarians giving England a football lesson at Wembley, And Billy Wright left on his backside by Puskas, no one has ever seen football like it. It has progressed a lot since, with us way way behind.
    Whats happening as Dan suggests is the big clubs buying all the talent and then loaning them out in order to get some game time ,money is the crux of it a handful of clubs can do it the others cant.
    This idea is a slippery slope it should be resisted otherwise we will all end up as feeder clubs.

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Unless the ar*e drops out of the TV market for football, I cannot see there being much change to the status quo.

    As has been said above, EU rules dictate free movement of labour and, even if you try and restrict non-EU deals [which would probably help to a degree] other countries are more lax and then non-EU nationals acquire the same rights after they’ve served their time.

    The only area which can be influenced to try and recitify the problems with the lack of good British players and thus the poor national team set-up is to keep trying to get it right at grass roots level. I think we have to focus our energies on that and keep chipping away. More than anything else, we have to get kids to improve their first touch and general control of the football, for me this is our major failing; tactics can easily be taught/learned. I know that this is nothing new, so what can we do differently?

    I think we have to invest a shed load of money [perhaps a levy from the PL might help?] into coaching at grass roots level. We also have to stop the result being the key thing in junior football. Sorry if that sounds wishy washy, but if we do not do this, then the result becomes everything and we need to change emphasis onto skill levels not results at an early age. I have to say, I’m probably as bad as anyone in terms of wanting my lads team to win, but that’s not to say that is the correct approach. Rather like the drink driving campaign of years ago, you can only change the culture over a long period of time.

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    Modern football is not rubbish, last nights Premier League action was a credit to English football.

    Nothing seismic has changed over the past 40-50 years.
    Man Utd, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool etc were the big teams then.
    & Blues have spent most of that period where they are now in tier two of English football.

    There are just more foreign players .
    The young English players need to play & the lower leagues are ideal proving grounds.
    Andros Townsend, Joe Hart, Ravel Morrison & Jesse Lingard
    are proof perfect of that.

    Nothing wrong with bigger clubs investing in smaller ones if it preserves the heritage, & footballing communities of those financially struggling .

    Better that than seeing a bunch of clubs fold up & go to the wall.

  • old blue says:

    alas, as we have seen to our cost, money talks,
    if this is what the ‘big clubs want – this is what they will buy’.
    Hopefully when the BT Sky bubbles burst, and they find somewhere else to invest their money, a degree of sanity will return.
    One day sanity may reign, with players in a league having a set wage, with a bonus for their final league position; with those with money sharing it down the league, visiting teams getting a share of the gate money, those running [some would say ruining] the game realising that without sound foundations no structure lasts.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    How about Premier league reserves containing the reserves of the current prem teams, Championship reserves containing the championship reserves and so on for league 1 and league 2? Hold on isn’t that what happens now?

    Maybe a salary cap and a quota on the number of foreign players allowed per game. So if say Arsenal want to sign lots of foreigners they can have as many as they like but only play say 3 on pitch at any one time. That way English talent would get more time.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Agree with everything in the article.

    Only way to stop these leeches, is for them to naff orf and form their own Stupour League… and let us get back to real football, not that fantasy crap they want to inflict on us. And make sure there are no transfers between them and the football league. Let them produce their own players. I know it will never happen, but that’s what I’d like to happen.

    I’d rather Blues fans create their own Birmingham City Football Club and go and watch them in non-league, than be a part of something that would kill us as a club.

  • sutton apex says:

    i agree – premier league trying to become even more elitist – in any other form of business a cartel !!
    i think vast majority of football league clubs have had enough and would form their own independent league rather than become b team franchises
    roll on b’ham city v solihull moors !!

  • phil says:

    Modern football is *hite …… Money money money , i watch football in the park !”! Not great pretenders in the league !!!!

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Sky and their megabucks is what’s killing our game. If it wasn’t for them, admission prices wouldn’t be so high, wages wouldn’t be so high and foreigners wouldn’t want to come here and flood our game just to make a killing for very little return.

    I got rid of Sky 4 years ago… and I’ve never regretted it. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I support them with my wallet again. I’d rather spend the money on a LIVE game.

  • bluenoserob says:

    isnt edward woodwood dead? stupid ,dangerous idear anyway.

  • paulo_bcfc says:

    Modern football is (insert chosen swear word(s) here). The premier league is dominated by a handful of clubs who continually chase champions league places, and god forbid, the Europa league ..as they are too good for that. A system like this would only benefit those who want it in the first place, and it’s like the ‘elite’ moneybags clubs are implying there is something wrong with everyone else, and English football does not meet their standards …sky has a lot to answer for.

  • Roy Smith says:

    I used to love the French League as you could never tell who’d win and who would go down. Now that’s been wrecked by Russian and Arab money, so there isn’t a league in Europe that hasn’t been ruined by the billionaires.
    Let the “Big boys” from across Europe form their own “Superleague” and leave real football to the rest of us. The likes of Chelsea will soon get bored when they end up middle of the table every season and with no relegation 50% of the games will be void of interest.

  • andy says:

    Stoke City are an example of how life in the Premiership is. They have had a drop in season tickets and gates over the past few seasons. Why? Because they are never going to win the League or even finish in the top 6. They, like many clubs, look to survive every season, nothing will ever change unless they are relegated! Sky and money rule the game and that’s why many now look for other things to do on a Saturday rather than pay a fortune to watch a football match.

  • Bill cridland says:

    We really must get back to the central league,football combination leagues Watching Johnny Schofield ,George Allen Johnny Newman,Jackie Lane etc all plying their trade in a competitive environment all waiting their call for first team duty.This would I think keep all the players on competitive edge and end the stupidity of these loan deals

    • Chris W says:

      You never head the excuse that a player was lacking match fitness either, players played week in week out, the likes of Colin Doyle were kept warm playing.
      It also gave the kids a chance to meet the players, I remember Johnny Schofield, chatting with us youngsters when there was a lull in play….
      Bring back reserve games instead of having a stadium unused every other week.
      I also remember waving the first team off in the morning, use to live in Tilton’s back to backs, and collecting autographs when they returned on the night.

  • blunosed says:

    The way Man Utd are dropping down the league they will become a feeder club themselves. Comical idea that doesn’t need to happen as there’s a reserve league and the loan system.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Am I the only one that get’s no pleasure from watching Premier football? I’ll give match of the day a watch now and then… but watch a full game on Sky? Not on your wotsits. I’d rather watch Burton v Fleetwood than Man U v Chelsea every day of the week.

  • glosblue says:

    I have always liked the idea of a European Super League and start it off with the top 6 clubs in the Premiership and proportionate numbers from the other European countries. We could then go back to the original Divisions 1/2/3/4 with either 2 or 3 up/down and forget the play-offs. They could also have their own cup competition and the top few Div 1 teams could compete in a similar competition to the present Europa League with other similar teams from around Europe.

    • DoctorD says:

      Exactly — that is my big plan. Let the big clubs just bog off and form their own money-swilling super Euro league.

      Basically having a Champions League top four is doing pretty much that already, except that the teams are strangling the competition in their domestic leagues.

      We might actually win a top division title!

  • Paul says:

    I agree the number of players in a squad should be reduced also the number of substitutes should go back to 3. Managers would have to be more creative if they did not have almost a full second X1 on ten bench.
    Also have wages structured to include appearance money and perhaps fewer talented players woul be satisfied with not playing and spread out more.
    Most of the ruler being changed are to protect those in the Premier League and have nothing to do with improving the state of football

  • Roy says:

    On the question of “relative impermanence of players’ careers”, it seems this is symptomatic of most jobs now, whether they be in sport, industry or commerce. My Grandfather and father spent their whole working lives at Austin at Longbridge and during that time, it was rare for footballers to shift from club to club. But times have changed. It’s rare, now, for people to work in one place for the entirely of their careers – the loyalty factor has gone. Of course, there are exceptions – Steven Gerard and Ryan Giggs immediately come to mind – but they are exceptions to the new rule. It’s the loyalty factor that concerns me most. The fans still have it, but that cannot generally be said for players, managers, or even members of Boards of Directors.

  • an olden says:

    Let me tell you a story I chaired a team which was composed of west indian players. Every year we would be promoted until we reached the top division At that point we were required to play on private grounds That was very much more expensive than was charged by the local council..The teams we played were promoted by public houses They were able to give the players Sunday lunch with drink Some would be handed a £5 note There were a large number players out of work I paid a sum up front for use of the pitches .The players had no money. It took one season for players to leave for the other teams and I could not afford the full cost. The club ended after a history of over 50 years . in a small way that is what is happening to the game now where clubs find themselves funded not by local business men but by foreign money As happened at Chelsea or Man city they are funded as a plaything when they can not afford the cost ,they will leave What happens then who knows but there are other leagues and new teams it is just evolution

  • Casper says:

    In order to improve the English national team, more English players need to be playing regularly at the highest level (pretty bloody obvious) therefore we have to restrict the number of non-English players playing for the top clubs. Of course we’re not allowed to do that because we are part of Europe, so unless UKIP gain power (unlikely) or we vote in the referendum (whenever that may be, if ever) to leave Europe and govern ourselves, this’ll never happen!
    In addition, anyone who pays for Sky Sports is part of the problem…


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