FORMER Swindon Town head of youth Paul Bodin has added his voice to those opposing proposals by the Football Association to enter Premier League B teams into a new League Three by 2016/17.
Bodin, who spent the best part of 20 years at the County Ground in spells as a player and coach, believes some of the plans made by FA chairman Greg Dyke’s commission favour only the teams in the Premier League and towards the top of the Football League pyramid.
The commission’s blueprint suggests 10 top-flight second teams join a division between League Two and the Conference, with the top 10 non-league sides making up a 20-team league.
It also advocated a limit on the number of foreign players allowed in those squads and facilitates a restriction on the number of non-EU players eligible for a work permit.
The commission’s intention is to help England’s national team develop more top-quality players, but Bodin feels it is neglecting the wants and needs of clubs and youth academies lower down the footballing structure in this country.
He told the Advertiser: “I think it’s catering for the big boys yet again. It’s elitism, isn’t it? The lower clubs, financially, will suffer dramatically. It’s a pyramid, it’s a great pyramid - the fact that two teams come up from the Conference now is a wonderful incentive for all these smaller clubs to play League football.
“It’s designed to develop youth but I’m not 100 per cent sure it will do that. The big clubs just hoover up as much as they possibly can - with eights to 16s and now from 16s to 21s.
“The big clubs have under 18 teams, under 19 teams and under 21 teams, with 20 players in each squad, which have to go into the B team. How can a youth team player ever going to progress through and get in a first team when there are so many players in front of them?
“Players love playing, players like to be out on the pitch as much as they can. It’s been created by the amount of money they get to stay in the Premier and it’s harder and harder for youth players to get through.
“If you’ve got the right philosophy at your football club you don’t need a B league, you just need to be braver and play more homegrown players. It’s quite simple, really.”
Bodin was in charge of the youth team at Town during the advent of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), which effectively gave big clubs the chance to cherry pick local talent at reduced fees.
He feels as though the League Three proposal is an extension of that theory, saying: “The EPPP was really set up for the Premier League. Everyone has to fall in place because they’re so powerful and again, these proposals are designed to help them not help football in general. We can say grassroots football needs looking at and that’s true but they’re not really interested in that because they just go in their own direction.
“It’s elitism, it’s protecting their own and not really doing enough homework to see how it would affect the lower down clubs, who survive on 1,000 or 2,000 gates. I’m sure they’ll be less money filtered down, as there is every season.”