Braintree Town chairman ‘astounded’ at FA’s England Commission Conference snub

Action from Braintree Town v Salisbury this season

Action from Braintree Town v Salisbury this season - Credit: Archant

Braintree Town manager Lee Harding labelled the FA’s decision not to consult the Football Conference over their plans to shake up the national game, as “astounding”.

FA chairman Greg Dyke and the England Commission presented a number of proposals aimed at increasing the number of English players in the Premier League from 32 per cent to 45 per cent by 2022.

The Commission report states that including Premier League ‘B’ teams in a new ‘League Three’, which would be sandwiched between League Two and the Conference, would help to boost the number of young players at the top end of English football and ultimately increase the national team’s chances of winning a major tournament.

Special loan relationships between the bigger and smaller clubs, overhauling the work permit system and increasing the number of home-grown players in squads, including restricting the number of non-EU players, have also been proposed

Around 650 interviews in England and abroad were conducted but the Conference was not consulted.

Iron, who narrowly finished outside the Skrill Premier play-offs would be directly affected and would be hosting Manchester United’s and Manchester City’s B teams if it was implemented next season.

Harding supports the need to try and improve the national team’s fortunes, but said the proposals need to be worked on.

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“There is a lot of sympathy for the need to have a strong national side,” said Harding.

“Already, some of the ideas are being implemented at our football club, with our linking-up with QPR, West Ham and Watford.

“But there are a number of pros and cons.

“Would we have “real” games against Manchester United or Manchester City B, would people be interested in watching their ‘B’ teams?

“We finished in the top-six this season, but the introduction of a League Three would see 14 clubs relegated a level to accommodate these ‘B’ teams and I can see possible problems with that.

“More work is needed. I understand 650 different parties were involved in the process and it is a shame no-one invited the Conference. I find that astounding.

“The people running the Conference are going to be involved directly in these changes so to not include them rings alarm bells. As FA Chairman, Greg Dyke represents everyone within the FA.”

Harding believes more should be looked at to improve coaching in the country but conceded that all came down to finance.

“There are 24,000 UEFA A-licenced coaches in Spain and 3,000 in England. That needs to be addressed,” said Harding.

“We need better coaching and more coaches but it comes down to money. It’s a question of priorities when it comes to grassroots.”

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