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Two major reforms on the football horizon thanks to, oh, err, McDonalds?

By Tony Attwood

If you have an exceptionally long memory you might recall that during the summer the England team in the Bent World Cup didn’t do very well.  And the question arose as to why.

Untold Arsenal did a bit of research and came up with a reason: we didn’t have the same number of coaches per player as other countries.   Then one of our loyal readers came up with a second reason: unlike most other countries we refused to allow reserve teams of our bigger clubs to play in the lower leagues, thus preventing young England players from getting enough chances on the pitch.

Now it seems there is just a little chance that both of these issues, so bravely and radically raised by Untold and its commentators, could be reformed.  Nothing is certain as yet but there is just a hint that something might happen.

First, coaching.  The FA has teamed up with those health fanatics McDonald’s and Carlsberg to encourage people to become a coach or referee.

The FA hopes their expensive advertising campaign “Football needs you”  will attract 50,000 new level one coaches by 2011 and 8,000 new referees by 2012.

The coaching initiative is backed by McDonald’s (expect some overweight shouting from the touchline) and the referee drive is in association with Carlsberg (and well, we knew most of them were drunk anyway).  (Sorry Walter).

As for the idea about allowing the reserves of the top teams to play in lower leagues, this is established practice in a lot of Europe, but not in England because of an altercation between Arsenal and the Southern League in the dim and distant (circa 1894)

Now it is a fixed rule in England: no reserve teams in the lower leagues.  Our leagues are much stronger than in Europe, they say.   The Championship is the third biggest league in Europe etc etc.

Well, yes, but it is not quite so rosy if you are Accrington or Barnet, struggling along on crowds of under 2000.  The occasional appearance of the young stars of tomorrow when you play Arsenal reserves might work wonders.  The chance of a smaller team to beat Arsenal (even Arsenal reserves) might well bring a crowd in.

The boost is, I admit, still a long way off, but there is a sniff of change happening in Scotland – and at least that brings it within the UK for the first time.

The Scottish League is a bit like the Spanish League in that there are only two teams who can win the league each year.  The rest scramble to avoid liquidation.  (They used to try to avoid relegation, but these days that can seem a blessed relief).

Scotland has tried to keep going by introducing four very little leagues where every team plays the others a lot.  There’s not too much promotion from outside the leagues unless there is an expansion or someone goes bust.

Now the idea is that bigger leagues could be formed by having some of the SPL clubs playing their reserve teams in the third and fourth tier of Scottish football.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but there seems to be some interest in this proposal.

I am a firm believer in the view that if this approach came to England it could benefit Arsenal enormously, for instead of having to find ways of loaning out our kids across Europe, we could give them solid league experience for a year or so with Little Arsenal playing in the third division in England.  There would be a rule, as there is in Europe, that they could not be promoted beyond a certain point (so, for example, the club has to exist in League One or Two).   If they won promotion that promotion would go to the club who finished below them.

Of course, as always with football administration, things can move at the pace of a Patagonian hedgehog in reverse (although if you live in Argentina you might want to update me on that), but there is just the faint whiff of change.  After all we have the Financial Doping regulations, and we also have the “25” so there is the smell of change in the air.  You never know – this could just be possible.

16 comments to Two major reforms on the football horizon thanks to, oh, err, McDonalds?

  • walter

    Well if I had to make a choice I would take the McDonald thing and leave the beer to the coaches. 😉

    The idea of having our reserves playing in the lower leagues would make me wild. I think our young players would benefit a lot from this.

    But it would take away my last sleep on saturday night. Because after MOTD I would like to see the game of the reserves and so I will have to stay up even later and as we have a one hour time difference …

  • A Casual Observer

    Could this be the reason for…

    …THE ELITE SQUAD!!!!!?

  • FEDDA

    In Norway the reserve team, often named as 2(Arsenal 2). Cannot be any higher than 2 divisons below the first team. So if the first team gets relegated so does the reserve team. The second team can win its league and not get promoted, but will always get relegated if they finish in the relegation zone or the first team is relegated from it’s league. It works fine and players who came back from injury get to play a better game

  • walter

    I think in Spain they can play one league below if I am correct? I think the ruling is just that they cannot play in the same league as the first team. And that is fine if you ask me.

    The only thing I see is that after some years it could happen that the EPL and the first division are filled with almost the same teams. Because one can imagine that the top teams have such strong reserve teams that they could all finish high and get promoted to the first division after some time.

  • t00farg0ne

    I wonder if reserve teams for Arsenal and the big English clubs could pave the way for the top European clubs to pull away from their respective divisions and forming the European Super League.

    If Arsenal B, Chelsea B, Man Utd B are allowed and are always top of the Championship then the thinking may be to really consider a super league set up and use the Domestic League for their B teams. The Premier League might not like it but if they still have a competitive Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd teams it wouldn’t matter too much.

    I’m not sue if this would be a good thing but It might be something considered at board level if the opportunity came up when tv rights are up for renewal.

  • insideright

    Arsenal make great play of the fact that young players are brought up through the system and learn how to play the game together as a team. The loan system, to a certain extent, seems to undermine that principal although in some cases (Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshire) it seems to work a treat.
    The question is, would Arsenal 1 ground share with Arsenal 2?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It sounds like a workable idea Tony.If the 2 teams are kept apart in the league and cups ,I don’t see a coflict of interest.Registering the respective teams every six months will keep things competative and should not be a problem as we have started it this season with the squad registeration.
    I like tOOfargOne’s idea of an eventual European Super League – a mouth watering prospect indeed.
    Oh , and 3 ” BURPS ” to the sponsors !

  • Paul C.

    I find it incredible that many Liverpool fans still expect a new owner to come in finance a new stadium. Why can’t they build it themselves, like we did? One thing is certain, John Henry won’t pay for the building of a new stadium. He used the threat of leaving Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox’s home since 1914) as a way to get taxpayer dollars to refurbish the old stadium (new executive boxes, expanded capacity etc) but never considered paying for it himself. There is absolutely zero chance that he would pay for a new stadium for Liverpool, so Liverpool fans should get over it and realise that for new stadium to be built they will have to seriously tighten their purse strings for a few years, just as we did.

    Regarding Spurs wanting to go to the Olympic Stadium, the easy way for the government to handle this is to say “fine, you can play in the Olympic Stadium and remove the running track that we promised UK Athletics, just as long as you buy the stadium from the UK Taxpayers so we can build a new athletics stadium with 20,000 capacity elsewhere in London”. Simple. Of course Spurs wouldnt go for that, because like Liverpool they want someone else to pay for their new stadium.

    The more I see the likes of Spurs and Liverpool scramble to build a new stadium, the prouder I feel towards our club. What a club we suppport, that was ambitious enough to say “we are going to finance the building of a new stadium ourselves, even if it means poor results for a few years”. What bravery. What ambition. What inspired vision. How great a club is Arsenal?

  • Paul C.

    Sorry, my post above should have been on the Spurs and Liverpool thread. Whoops. My bad. D’OH!!!!! Tony, can you change it over to relieve my blushes?

  • Ian

    If your first team got relegated from the championship, and your reserve team won league 1 what would happen?

    Could the reserves be promoted as they wouldn’t be in the same league? And could you then swap all the players around?

  • Adam

    Just wondering what would happen to all the teams that would have to drop out of the pro leagues because the whole of the prem and championship would enter reserve sides, where would you find the space for an extra 44 sides in the pro league pyramid.

  • Paul C.

    Adam – they wouldnt be pro anymore, which would be great for everyone. There is a myth that England has always had 92 pro teams but for most of the time the majority of smaller clubs were semi-pro and the lower leagues were regionalised. It would be easy to go back to that state of play. Just look at League Two this season. Are you telling me that most of those clubs wouldnt fare much better being semi-pro and being able to reduce travel by playing only local sides?

    92 professional teams is far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far too many for a country the size of England. Look up Segunda Division B for details how Spain do it.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Would Arsenal Young Boys be allowed in the FA Cup as well? What would happen if they drew the Big Boys?? Are they allowed to demand that the senior pros clean their boots for a week if they beat them??

    Would Arsene be allowed to pick both squads??!! Would there need to be a separate Young Boys manager?? Would Arsene fire him if his Young Boys beat his boys??

    All good fun……….

  • Hello to you all!

    Congratulations Tony, Walter, Phil, Paul and the rest of the Untold team and all the other guys in the comment section, for getting into the top ten blogs.
    Just goes to show that quality will always rise above mediocrity (AAA blogs) When Arsenal does well they have nothing to write about, only spouting unfounded claims and revealing their ignorance further. Two of the Arsenal blogs I’ve resorted to follow personally, the other being Arseblog, are in the top 10. Pleasing!!

    Back to the topic, this could be an interesting development for your country’s football overall. Of course Arsenal would stand to benefit more than the other teams as they streets ahead with their development. One can only hope that those in power deals with this a little faster that a “Patagonian hedgehog in reverse”.

    Mostly I hope that that model can be copied here in South Africa. We’ve copied the English footballing model before (FA, EPL, a few division below, we have that) and have failed at times as has the English national team. England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, we followed suit and failed qualify for the ACN 2010. We have the dubious honour of being the first HOST Nation to be knocked out of the Bent world cup in the group stages (really hurts).

    Anyway, I wonder if I could just whisper this into our FA officials’ ear and see if we can beat English football to it! not holding my breath!!!

    Thanks for keeping us, or at least me, entertained and informed.

    Going back to lurk in the shadows

  • kiwigooner

    Well this story could only come from Los Angeles – Pet acupuncture is apparently the new way to go. Now we’re all natural sorts of folks (as is clearly obvious from our blog and book, but again somebody has gone an one-upped us. According to the L.A. Unleashed column of the L.A. Times holistic pet medicine is the new wave and at the cutting (or poking) edge is pet acupuncture.

    If you consider that it’s probably better to stick needles in your pet than in yourself, then this is a really good deal. From our perspective however, it’s best to have the needles sticking out of the animal like in the case of our Patagonian-Hedge-Hog Soap-Holder (on page 52).
    http://www.aardvarktongue.com/blog/

    I don’t know what’s stranger, the fac that a Patagonian Hedgehog exists or the fact I went looking for it!!

  • Common Sensei

    McDonalds and Carlsberg to sponsor sport? Next they will be trying to sponsor the NHS in more feeble attempts to win public support.

    Face it we like your food even though it kills us but we will never like the pedo clown! Lol

    And please don’t stick needles in your pets either – Unless you keep a pet pin cushion 🙂