Town could lose reserve league status

IPSWICH Town will be kicked out of the Premier Reserve League if Premiership bosses approve sweeping changes.Proposals have been put forward cutting the size of both Premier League South and North, by allowing only those clubs whose senior sides are in the Premiership to play in them.

IPSWICH Town will be kicked out of the Premier Reserve League if Premiership bosses approve sweeping changes.

Proposals have been put forward cutting the size of both Premier League South and North, by allowing only those clubs whose senior sides are in the Premiership to play in them.

Although the Blues are currently ninth in the southern section of the league, ahead of Norwich who are cut adrift at the bottom, they would lose their status, as would Watford, unless their first team wins promotion to the Premiership, along with Reading.Leicester City, Coventry City, Southampton and Crystal Palace would also be ejected leaving a maximum of nine teams in the division - eight if Portsmouth's senior side are relegated.

Sheffield United would go into the Premier Reserve League North, with only Leeds and Wolves from the Championship. But it could mean any three from Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Birmingham, Pompey or West Brom, being relegated, so their chairmen may be reluctant to vote for the changes.


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For the changes to be ratified 75% of the existing 20 Premier League chairmen would have to approve the proposals.

If the move goes ahead plans are afoot to introduce regional reserve leagues for the Championship, League One and League Two.

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Although Town would lose their Premier status four years after winning the title, Blues reserve team manager Steve McCall is broadly in favour of the move, although has some misgivings.

McCall said: “In essence I'm for the idea of fewer league games which would give us more time for the actual development of players. We would still have a competitive edge to the season but we would also have the flexibility to organise friendlies at times that suit us.

“Against that it could involve more travel if we are up against teams like Plymouth, Cardiff and possibly Swansea if they came up, in the proposed Championship reserve league. It would also cost clubs in financial terms.

“At the moment we are in the lap of the gods, or at least the Premiership chairmen, because we don't actually get a say in that decision. The basic principle is right but we, like Norwich, could end up suffering because of the travelling so any new structure would have to be managed carefully.”

At the moment there is no relegation from the Premier Reserve League and so they have grown over the years to 14 in the south and 15 in the north, although some clubs have dropped out voluntarily.

Derby, who won the league twice, pulled out completely last year allowing them more freedom to play games when they wanted and at the training ground as opposed to a rigid 7pm at Pride Park, which the Premier League prefer.

McCall said: “The leagues have been getting bigger and bigger and if the current status continued Reading's arrival would mean 28 games next season. With many teams having smaller squads it means doubling up with more Academy boys and we have seen even with the big clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea, that teams are getting younger and younger.

“That means the Academy players are playing and travelling more and having less time for technical coaching and development.”

Although more than 1,000 Town fans used to regularly watch reserve football when the Blues first played in the Premier League in 2000, gates at Portman Road are now in the region of 300 and would probably have been even less had they played at Needham Market as planned.

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