December 7, 2021

Man City chief believes Covid crisis is ‘a good opportunity’ to introduce B teams to English football

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Ferran Soriano is hoping to see England implement a system like the one in Spain, where several La Liga reserve sides compete in the lower divisions

\Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano believes the English Football League is not a sustainable business and has called on Premier League reserve sides to enter the lower divisions.

The coronavirus crisis has hit clubs in leagues below the Premier League especially hard, as matchday revenue has evaporated with fans still not allowed to attend games in the UK. 

Without the massive TV revenue Premier League clubs enjoy, many clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two have been forced to reckon with a difficult future.

In 2016, EFL clubs voted against a proposal that would have seen Premier League B teams in its divisions.

Soriano believes that proposal should be revisited though, which, if enacted, could give young players a chance to better develop by testing themselves against senior players.

Speaking to sports business conference Leaders Week, Soriano said: “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.

“There are other problems; the challenges of developing players in England where B teams are not allowed, 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.”

Soriano worked with Barcelona from 2003 to 2008, serving as the club’s vice chairman and CEO. Spain currently uses a system like the one Soriano would like to see in England, with the Segunda Division B – Spain’s third tier – currently featuring a number of La Liga clubs’ reserve sides, including Barcelona B.