The cause of the England B set up requires a re-think.

Let’s suppose that the demise of England, at international level, is due to the high influx of foreign talent. If this is the case, why isn’t the FA looking outside of the top tier and at the player development occurring elsewhere?

The first official England B team match took place 1949. This was proposed to be the method of bringing through new talent to the National side. The Under 21 system came to fruition much later in the 1970’s.

Commercially, the FA has had little incentive to consider the alternatives. The record home attendance for any B international was back in 1950, when just over 43,500 fans descended on St James Park to see England B play the Netherlands.

Whilst the Premier League is justifiably the best league in the World, why can’t the FA break-out of its myopic view that English football and its mainstream support does not exist outside of that sphere.

Last season, of the 30 most supported clubs, entries appeared from both the Championship and League One. Clubs from the Premiership, including Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, Reading, Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham City, could not muster more support than Leeds United of League One.

Perhaps it’s time for a different England B experiment. Staged exclusively at Football League grounds, with players selected from Football League Clubs. Surely this was the purpose it was designed for.
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Ian Wilkinson

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