Saints director Les Reed does not see the logic of the new ‘B’ league proposal made by Football Association chairman Greg Dyke in his England Commission report.
Dyke unveiled a raft of proposals earlier today that are aimed at boosting both the number and quality of English players at the top level of club football in the country.
The most controversial suggestion is the introduction of ‘B’ teams in a new ‘League Three’ that would be established in 2016/17 and would feature ten Premier League ‘B’ squads and ten Conference sides.
The League Three would be placed below the current League Two and above the Conference Premier.
Reed addressed the issue at Saints’ player awards event earlier this week, labelling the plan as “laughable” at one point.
“There’s talk about a B league sitting between the Conference and League Two, in order that our young English players can get the experience of playing at the top level,” he said, speaking before the report was officially announced.
“I don’t understand that definition.
“Why would we want to develop elite players for international and Premier League football by playing them in a league that sits just above the Conference?
“We’ve got a terrific conveyor belt of players coming through our under-16s, under-18s, under-21s – each of those age groups are the youngest age groups in the Premier League, so we’ve got the youngest under-21 team, the youngest under-18 team, and the reason is five of them are in the first team.
“That, to me, seems to be a much better model.
“James Ward-Prowse will tell you that playing against Morgan Schneiderlin in training every day, working with him, playing with him on the pitch, playing with Victor Wanyama, international players of that calibre, makes him a better midfield player.
“He’s not going to get that playing against teams at League Two level and the Conference, so I think the idea (that) another league playing lower than League Two is going to make our young players better, I just don’t see the logic in that.
“I think it’s laughable.”
Under Dyke’s model, 19 of the 25 players in each ‘B’ team squad should be under the age of 21, while 20 of the 25 should qualify for the home-grown rule and no non-EU players would be allowed.
Dyke said Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Stoke and Tottenham all supported the proposal, but others are understood to have serious reservations.
As well as the B team plans, Dyke also unveiled a blueprint for overhauling the work permit system and increasing the number of home-grown players in squads.
The commission recommends a phased reduction in the number of non home-grown players in top-flight squads from 17 to 12, starting in 2016/17 and reaching that target by 2021.
In terms of work permits, the commission proposes a cap on two non-EU players per squad, and that no players on overseas visas should be allowed to play below the Premier League, nor loaned to any other club in England.
Dyke also announced a proposal for the development of “strategic loan partnerships” between a club in the Premier League or Championship and another club in the lower leagues.
Dyke, who wants to see the number of English players playing regularly in the Premier League increase from 66 currently to 90 by the year 2022, described the target as “ambitious but realistic”.