FA proposes English Premier League

LONDON - An FA commission wants to use the blueprint of the Spanish and German football leagues and allow Premier League clubs to enter B teams in lower divisions in a bid to improve the England national side, it said on Thursday.

The FA is proposing a major overhaul of English football with the introduction of a fourth-tier league from 2016-17 for top-flight clubs' B teams and limits on overseas players.

The commission was set up by FA chairman Greg Dyke and its members include England manager Roy Hodgson, former England coach Glenn Hoddle and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. "It was agreed that by 2022 our target should be that there are 90 English players playing regularly in the top European leagues, compared with 66 today, and of those 90 we would want at least 30 playing in the top six teams," Dyke told a news conference at Wembley Stadium.

The commission suggested the creation of a new 'League Three' which would initially be made up of 10 Premier League B teams and 10 sides from the cream of minor league football in a bid to give players more competitive matches.

Clubs could be promoted and relegated between League One, Two and Three and the minor league Conference but B teams could not play in the second-tier Championship and must always be at least one division below their A sides.

The plan is based on the structure of Spanish and German football, where younger players play competitively on a regular basis. The likes of Lionel Messi and Juan Mata came through Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams respectively. "The majority of Germans, the Spanish, like Xavi, (Sergio) Busquets, even (Pep) Guardiola, came through the B team system, the model is there for it to work," said former England and Manchester City defender Danny Mills, a commission member. "The biggest problem is going to be change and the change of tradition but if we want to move forward we have to change" WORK PERMIT As well as the introduction of 'B' teams, the commission wants to overhaul the work permit system and prevent non-EU players joining any English club outside the Premier League.

Developing a Strategic Loan Partnership, where clubs from the top two leagues loan players to a lower division 'Partner' club, is another change Dyke hopes will give more opportunity for English 18 to 21-year-olds to play more competitively. "I welcome the proposals and I know the chairman, and indeed everyone who is passionate about English football would strongly advocate the findings and recommendations," said Hodgson.

The FA commission's report said the next step in the process "should entail detailed consideration, consultation and debate between all interested parties in football".

Dyke implored leading clubs to look at the proposals with an open mind and said he already had the support of the Manchester clubs City and United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City. "The clubs we've talked to are keen," Dyke said. "The clubs said: 'You've got to find something that gives these kids real competition'. "We recognise that making changes in football is often a slow and difficult process but we urge those in the football world to consider our proposals constructively and with open minds.

"We urge them to balance the specific, narrowly-defined concerns of their particular club or league with what will be of the most benefit to the game overall, the development of young English players and the success of the England team." PLAN UNACCEPTABLE The English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) welcomed the proposals although the Football League said they were unacceptable in their present form.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "The Premier League as a product remains hugely successful both commercially and in terms of entertainment, but you only need to glance at the team-sheets each week to appreciate that fewer homegrown players are filling the major positions in the top teams." The Football League issued a statement in which chief executive Shaun Harvey said that while the current plans were unworkable it would continue dialogue with the FA.

"It is our view that the objective of increasing the number of quality English players is laudable and while the report may not contain a solution that is acceptable at the current time, we should continue to engage with the Commission to establish whether there is a solution that meets its stated objective but does not leave The Football League carrying a disproportionate or unreasonable burden," said Harvey.