‘B teams are a massive danger’ – Port Vale’s John Askey on football’s future



John Askey says he would hate to see Port Vale playing Premier League B teams in the EFL.

The debate about allowing top flight sides to field a reserve or academy side in the lower divisions has resurfaced as talks go on about restructuring the English game.

It emerged this week that FA chairman Greg Clarke was involved in discussions about B teams in the EFL and forming a Premier League Two – although he walked away from those talks several months ago.

But the news follows comments from Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano raising the topic of B teams and questioning the sustainability of the current EFL structure.

Askey would be loathe to see Port Vale v Manchester City B in League One or Two.

He has also warned about the danger of allowing top flight clubs too much influence in lower league sides. One of the proposals of ‘Project Big Picture’ was to allow clubs to loan out up to 15 players, including four at one club.

But the manager says keeping the independence of each club in the football pyramid is crucial.

He said: “I think it is a massive danger, B teams, and I don’t think it’s what clubs want. They want to stay independent of the bigger clubs. We don’t want to be playing against Man City B teams. It just stops being a competition.

“The pyramid system works well. Everyone feels they have a chance, even if they haven’t. Even if they haven’t got a chance of getting into the Premier League, everybody feels as though it is possible.

“It is less possible now, but we have seen the likes of Wimbledon do it in the past and everybody hopes for that.

“As regarding loans, you don’t want too many. It stops being your club. I am against having too many.”

Project Big Picture was rejected this week following a meeting of Premier League clubs. The plans, reportedly driven by Manchester United and Liverpool, were backed by the EFL chairman Rick Parry and would have given EFL clubs £250m in the short term plus 25 per cent of combined Premier League and EFL broadcasting revenues every year.

But the proposals would also have seen more voting power given to the big six clubs in the Premier League.

Instead, the Premier League clubs have come up with a £50m rescue package for League One and Two. However, that was rejected with the EFL saying it falls short of financial requirements and they want Championship clubs to be part of any deal.  

Askey added: “Hopefully something can get sorted but I think it’s a good thing that the top six have not got the monopoly.”

However he said EFL clubs do need financial help, adding: “If it doesn’t happen soon then clubs are going to go out of business. But hopefully it will get sorted quickly and we can just carry on and concentrate on playing football.”

Vale have made the point that the best help the government could give them would be to allow supporters back. That was planned for the start of October but put on hold following the rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

And with further measures being introduced against the pandemic, there is no date at the moment when fans could return to watch football at Vale Park, as they can at levels below the National League North and South.

Askey added: “I think most people believe there is plenty of outdoor space for supporters to come in, but how it is going at the moment, it is going the opposite way.

“We desperately need the money coming in.”





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