Greg Dyke’s Football Commission this week proposed a great swathe of reforms to help the England national game, but it is one issue that has dominated the agenda.
The proposal to introduce B teams into the lower leagues of the English football pyramid, with 10 Premier League reserve teams joining 10 Conference teams in a League Three, has met with a groundswell of objection.
Football fan Lewis Horwell, of Cleepthorpes, set up an online petition against the FA’s plan which has attracted more than 20,000 signatures.
Horwell admits to being “absolutely overwhelmed” by the response, adding: “A website will soon be going up live so we can continue to push with the publicity and really drive this home for to the FA.”
The number of signatories mirrors the outpouring of emotion within English football’s heartland.
On Twitter, the hashtag #NoToLeague3 was quickly trending worldwide with fans venting their derision at the decision.
Ex-footballers and media pundits weighed in on the social networking site with their verdict.
BBC pundit Robbie Savage tweeted: “Can’t believe that the fa commission panel with so many experienced people on it come up with the b league #ridiculous”
Perhaps the most powerful comments came from the Skrill Conference, who say they were not even consulted by a commission made up of FA chairman Dyke, Howard Wilkinson, Danny Mills and Football League chairman Greg Clark among others.
A statement from the Conference read: “Whilst the commission contains in some detail proposals deeply affecting the Football Conference, neither its chairman nor any other members of the Board of that particular competition were in any way consulted nor were their views sought directly or indirectly.”
In defence of their own competition, the Conference added: “The English pyramid system is unique, having evolved over 100 years.
“It has supported the growth of football into a league system that has become the envy of the world. The foundation is that in every community, throughout the UK, ordinary individuals engage in the financing, support and participation of teams which one day can reach the pinnacle of the top of the Premier League.
“It is built on a dream that every single football supporter has bought into.”
The Premier League – who refused an invitation to sit on the commission, which was announced last year – have yet to make an official comment.