CPST statement regarding AL3
The Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust is surprised and dismayed at the FA Commission’s recent AL3 proposals and the lack of consultation with both the Supporters’ Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation, as recognised fans’ organisations at national level. Threatening to undermine the existing football pyramid shows a complete disregard for both the fans and clubs that are so important to football in this country. Moreover it jeopardises our national sports’ future sustainability.
CPST fully supports the development of young football players, both male and female, and the aim of improving the number of home grown players at professional level that have the prospect of playing for England.
It is recognised however, that there are insufficient qualified coaches and suitable available facilities, especially at the grassroots, hampering such progress. CPST is taking a small step to try to assist a limited number of potential coaches locally to gain their first qualifications. The FA with its responsibility for football from the grassroots up has to more actively and openly address these issues nationally. Whilst we acknowledge that the grass roots element of this report is yet to be published, publishing such ill-thought out plans on League 3 proposals without consulting fan groups or the clubs affected shows scant regard for key stakeholders in the game.
Taking clubs from the Conference and joining them with B teams from the Premier League, along with restrictions on progress, is unfair and disrespectful to clubs within the existing Conference and their fans. The advantage of playing Premier League B teams against Conference level sides is unclear, and whether it will provide England players for the future is therefore highly questionable. Premier League and lower tier clubs already extensively use the loan system for mutual benefit to progress the development of their young and reserve team players.
More interest from the FA and Premier League in supporting the lower tier clubs – both in assisting the coaching levels and training facilities where necessary – would help the progress of club players and loanees alike and provide improved prospects for the future. Central to this is the fairer distribution of wealth within football. The increasing disconnect between the Premier League and the rest of the football pyramid is damaging the game, and the fairer sharing of the money earned by the Premier League to the rest of football would mean those clubs would be able to hire coaches and improve facilities to develop players with skills already displayed by players employed from abroad. This would contribute to improving the prospects of English born players making the first teams of Premier League clubs, and possibly the England team.
Furthermore the fact that there are so few qualified coaches in this country is exacerbated by the prohibitive costs of coaching courses here in the UK, in some cases over three times the cost of those in mainland Europe. These costs should be substantially reduced to encourage more people to start the journey to become a qualified coach.
CPST therefore urges the FA to discuss with supporters and their organisations improvements to the ‘beautiful game’ and to consider whether its own structures are sufficiently representative and suitable for the future.