Mark Lawn has joined the chorus of condemnation over the “daft” plan to put Premier League B teams in the Football League and blasted: It’s an insult to the fans.
The idea of setting up a new League Three for 2016-17, to include ten back-up squads from the top flight, is the most controversial of the proposals suggested by an England commission aimed at improving the national team’s fortunes.
But City co-chairman Lawn accused FA chairman Greg Dyke, who is behind the report, of ignoring the supporters in the lower divisions.
Lawn said: “It’s absolute nonsense; a completely daft scheme. It’s insulting to the lower leagues and also shows that the FA have no regard for the fans of those clubs.
“If they honestly think supporters would put up with this, then they are completely out of touch.
“The two bottom divisions don’t get a lot of TV coverage. It’s about supporters coming to the games.
“But fans will stay away in droves if this came in. (Former England defender) Danny Mills tried to say that fans would rather watch a Man United B than Torquay – I don’t think the crowd would be anywhere near.
“We’d be lucky to get 2,000 turning up at Valley Parade to watch us play against someone’s reserve team. It’s utterly ridiculous.”
City regularly faced Premier League youngsters on loan last season, such as Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford for MK Dons and Spurs midfielder Alex Pritchard at Swindon.
Lawn said: “What is wrong with clubs using the loan system like they do now?
“Manchester United did that with Tom Cleverley. He went to a League One club for a year, then to the Championship, then another team in the Premier League.
“They improved him year on year and now he’s playing for United and for England.
“But is there anybody on the FA commission from League One or League Two? I don’t think so. It’s not our problem – it’s a higher league problem. So why involve us?
“It’s just another way to appease the Premier League by giving them an outlet to hold on to players for longer to see how they do before they ditch them.”
Both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Tottenham are among those who have already declared an interest. But it has been widely criticised within the Football League.
Lawn believes the real issue is the high number of overseas imports which restrict opportunities at the top level.
He said: “There are too many foreign players. Obviously the top ones have improved English football but some of the players now are just being brought in for the sake of it.
“Some Premier League youth teams are full of lads who are French or Spanish. Perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to sign any foreign players until they are 21.
“But the FA are scared of the Premier League and trying to tell them what they should be doing, so instead they pick on the Football League.
“There’s Greg Dyke saying ‘what else can we do?’ Well why don’t they stop being a patsy for the Premier League for starters.
“I’m all for improving the England team but this is missing the major point. There are too many foreign players in the Premier League and unless they are going to do something about that, then they might as well do nothing.
“It’s like putting a plaster on an arm that’s been chopped off. It just doesn’t work.”