Time for England to re-consider B teams - Soriano
Written by Simon Austin — October 7, 2020
MANCHESTER CITY Chief Executive Ferran Soriano says English football should re-consider introducing B teams in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain - where Soriano previously worked as Barcelona’s Vice Chairman - has operated a B team system for several decades, as has Germany. The second-string teams operate in the same pyramid as their elite sides, but cannot be promoted into the same division.
In England, the Premier League operates Premier League 2, which is an Under-23 league. City manager Pep Guardiola has previously complained that PL2 is poor preparation for first-team football, because there are small crowds and the football is not competitive enough.
Speaking at LeadersWeek.direct, Soriano returned to this theme.
“There are other problems, the challenges of developing players in England where B teams are not allowed,” the Spaniard said. “We have a development gap of boys that are 17 or 18, they don’t find the right place to develop and for example they are taken from us by the German teams who try to sell them back to us for a price which is 10 times what they paid.
“This is mad, right? This is something we needed to solve and now maybe the crisis will give us the opportunity and will nudge us to get together and solve these issues.
“One of the challenges is the EFL [is] a business that is not sustainable enough. They were discussing ways to improve it, they were discussing salary caps, now they were sort of nudged, almost pushed, to solve the existing problems because of the crisis.
“It’s a good opportunity for the different elements of the football business to get together and solve these problems.
Guardiola lamented the lack of B teams in England in an interview in May 2017.
“The only problem the managers have in the first teams with the second teams is that the league they [the second teams] compete in it doesn’t count, so the gap between the first team and second team when they compete is so big,” he said.
“They play between each other with small ages and no spectators. The second teams in Spain, at Barcelona or Real Madrid, play in front of 40,000 people and every weekend in the second league.
"In Italy or Germany they are so tough, so demanding, they are playing with guys who are 28, 29 or 30 and that is the best way to improve, not training with the first team sometimes.
“Here, they don’t compete, they don’t play with each other. They are good guys but after they have to play in Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge.”