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Published on October 7th, 2016 | by Bill

FAO Shaun Harvey: Why we don’t like the Whole Game Solution. A practical guide for dummies.

Despite the backlash against the Football League’s thick as two short planks ‘Whole Game Solution’ and the inane ‘revamp’ of the Football League Trophy, CEO Shaun Harvey still appears confused as to football fans’ concerns .

‘There is confusion from the league’s perspective as to ultimately what the issue is with the competition. Low crowds are a concern but this was an innovative approach to solve a big problem’ said Harvey recently.

Confusion seems to be a common theme Shaun as a lot of people are confused as to how you are actually in the job.

But anyway, I’ll spell it out for you.

They can’t stand your seemingly incessant brown-nosing of the Premier League.

They don’t want Premier League B-teams in a Football League competition, given the problems that a dominant Premier League appears to be causing throughout football and are horrified you suggested it.

They think your new EFL Trophy is bloody stupid with those B-teams, crackpot regionalisation, overage opponents and baffling rules.

They can’t accept a ‘Whole Game Solution’ which doesn’t involve large scale reform of the Premier League in line with what is expected of the Football League.

They don’t want to hear any more about developing the England side when Premier League clubs can take the best Football League youth talent from poorer clubs for a capped fee under the Elite Player Performance Plan, hoard them and not play them.

As a fan of an average Football League side, speaking regularly to fans of average Football League clubs, not once has anyone gone ‘You know what we need mate? A whole game solution’.

So you see Shaun, you appear to have come up with answers to questions that very few are asking.

Not once, in the stands of Sixfields, Scunthorpe or Southend, have I heard a fellow fan utter the words ‘you know what the real problem is? Fixture congestion’. Indeed, a winter break is only a trivial point because we already have a winter break: when the weather is too bad, games aren’t played. Moreover, most fans I speak to want the FA Cup nurtured not shunted to midweek and they definitely don’t want replays scrapped.

Your B-teams in the Football League Trophy idea is actually so thick to be insulting. Football League Clubs are already living up to the realities of losing the chance to sell a homegrown player a season because the best are often whisked away in their teens by top level clubs via EPPP. Now they face the prospect of those players playing for the opposition in an EFL Trophy match and potentially denying them a much needed trip to Wembley.

The Daily M***’s Matt Barlow recently wrote a piece titled ‘Is the EFL Trophy that bad?’ in which he covered a Wycombe Wanderers vs. West Ham B tie. The most telling thing in all the ‘give it time’ guff was that Barlow chose cash-strapped fan-owned Wycombe Wanderers and the piece may as well have begun and ended with the line saying the Wycombe manager and Chairman like the ‘new format because it generates money’. Generates money from the handouts for winning matches not the crap attendances, I might add.

I’m surprised the M*** hack actually pulled the Chairboys’ chairman away from selling his cow for magic beans out the back.

You can take praise for the competition from West Ham’s U-23 coaches with a pinch of salt too. When was the last time anyone from a Premier League club spoke out about anything that Richard Scudamore’s organisation is involved with in the press? Of course M*** scribe Barlow didn’t mention the Hammers’ next EFL Trophy match at Northampton which is a dead rubber with both teams out, that will cost the League 1 club money to open the ground for one man and his dog.

Shaun, let’s have an end now to any more talk of Football League clubs helping the England team. The FA’s England commission should have been a page long and come up with two outcomes.

1: The Premier League should scrap their academies and relinquish youth development to Football League clubs who can actually field young players in their first teams.

Or

2: Premier League clubs can keep their academies but any English players aged 18-21 who do not fulfil a % of 1st team games are automatically listed for loan.

Again Shaun, this all boils down to commitment to your members. The Football League has everything it needs to be a self-sufficient, thriving football entity which pushes the agenda of football reform in a healthy way. So why is your chairman Ian Lenagan stating that the harmful Elite Player Performance Plan is ‘a great investment’ that ‘has worked and continued to work’ when Crystal Palace chief Steve Parish called it ‘letting lions into a petting zoo’? Why have you yourself published a ‘Whole Game solution’ and then said there is ‘no suggestion of a change to the Premier League. That needs to stay as it is to prosper’?

Why are you taking the flack for football’s ills while Scudamore, Bill Bush and co get off scot-free?

In the short term, you should appoint a fans’ representative to the Football League board so we can get a handle on the motives for these mad schemes. After all if it’s good enough for Karl Oyston, it’s good enough for the people that are the lifeblood of your member clubs.

Ultimately though Shaun, unless you hold your hands up now and scrap the current EFL Trophy and bin the ‘Whole Game Solution’, #BTeamBoycott will be joined by #HarveyOut as a social media trend and the real remedy to the mess you have created.

This piece was written, for STAND by Tom Reed

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