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CLUB STATEMENT ON 'LEAGUE THREE'

12 May 2014

Rovers do not support current proposals

There has been a great deal of publicity in the last week regarding the changes announced by FA Chairman Greg Dyke concerning future plans for our national game.

The most controversial topic, by far, is to establish a new league which would sit between League Two and the Conference, thus effectively becoming League Three.

The make up for this new league would be a mix of Conference sides and 'B' teams from Premier League clubs, thus enabling young players from the elite clubs to play competitive football as opposed to Development or Academy games.

Not surprisingly, this issue has been debated by clubs, officials and fans alike, particularly those with no Premiership affiliations. Within the Football League and the football family in general there has been a tremendous backlash to this proposal.

We believe that the FA Chairman has shown a complete lack of understanding of what happens outside of the country's flagship league and he appears to have no knowledge whatsoever of the football pyramid that currently exists.

There appears to have been a failure to consult clubs, at Conference level in particular, and a growing Twitter campaign has already garnered thousands of signatures against the proposal.

If, as the report says, the new setup is being suggested to aid the development of young English football talent, and therefore benefit the national team, then we believe that the implications for lower league clubs has not been taken into consideration at all.

If adopted, then the top clubs in the country will be able to stockpile the best young talent around and clubs like ourselves will have little, or no, part to play in developing promising young footballers who will be quickly snapped up by the elite few.

Those clubs already have an advantage, having formulated the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) which allows them to poach the best young players for minimal compensation from lower league clubs and this appears to be another hammer blow to lower league Academies and Centres of Excellence.

If the Football Association is truly concerned about developing young, English, talent they really should consider alternative solutions, because the plan as it stands is a recipe for undermining a very strong football pyramid.

Whilst a solution does need to be found to improve the lot of the young English footballer and, therefore, the national team, it should not be undertaken at the expense of undermining the whole fabric of organised football in this country and we urge the Football Association to consider alternatives.

Until, and unless, that course of action is taken, we do not feel able to support the current proposals. 

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