Monday, 12 July 2010

North Britain Open

We need to allow top Scottish teams to play their reserve sides against other sides.
The world cup has just been won by Spain. The runners up were the Netherlands, the 3rd place team, were Germany. All 3 of these European sides allow either reserve sides or youth sides to compete against real teams.
In Germany big sides allow their reserve sides to play up to the third division north.
In Spain big sides can play their reserve teams up to the Spanish second division.
In the Netherlands the youth teams of Ajax play in the Dutch cup.
As a result of this when foreign players get in the way of developing native players, the youth player is not thrown on the scrap heap they instead get another chance to play real teams in real matches.
In the old days in Scotland, if you were the best youth team, player in Scotland all you had to do was get past another Scot to play in the first team.
So a developing striker at Celtic just had to be better than some old Scottish striker who might get sold anyway. Nowadays a developing Scottish striker will have to get past numerous foreign players to get into the first team. Often even when Celtic sell a striker they just buy a another ready made striker to replace him.
So the opportunities for Scottish players to make the grade a re limited at top clubs an infact all SPL sides.
As a result WE as a real team suffer.
I say lets allow all SPL sides to play against real senior pro sides in a new trophy.
My idea is the North Britain open. Allow the 12 premier reserve sides, plus the first teams of senior pro teams from the third and second division and non league visions to play these sides.
The difference I would do with the German,. Spanish and Dutch system is I would not limit the squads of the the reserve sides from the SPL.
In the Spanish, German, and Dutch system these separate side plays as totally different squads that cannot be interchanged from week to week. Obviously massive sides like Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich can afford to run separate squads but small SPL sides cannot. I would use the old British system of allowing players to move from reserve to full teams. Except I would have some rules to stop player burn out an to ensure teams were not simply playing their first team in the trophy.
The rule could be no player can play in the reserve team if they played for the first team in the previous 8 days and that only 6 players in the squad can be over 25.
This would ensure teams were genuinely reserve sides and used for developing youth players but that if a player did a good job for the reserve team they could move to the first team and play in Europe for the side.
In the old reserve league in Scotland players could move from reserve sides to first teams week in week out I think this system should be kept, but that this system allows fringe players to get matches.
Format of tournament.
Number of games in tournament. The ideal number of games would around 10 - 16. This way players get some match experience but not player burn out, which is good for player development.
There needs to be good balance between allowing a lot of SPL reserve teams to play but having more proper first teams than reserve sides in the trophy.
The first rounds could have groups of 11 with each team playing eachother once.
With the top 3 or 4 teams of each group qualifying for the knockout stages.
I would have groups of 11 teams in each group with each team only playing eachother once. Some will say that it is not fair to only play eachother once but this is a cup competition not a league. By playing eachother once it allows teams to play a max variety of teams without having to play too many games. Obviously to ensure teams have the same number of home and away games teams will groups will need an odd number of teams if playing eachother only once.

Invitations to foreign sides
To add interest and novelty to the trophy it could be a good idea to allow teams from Northern England to take part. Reserve sides of Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbourgh, Manchester United reserves, Liverpool reserves, Everton Reserves and some non league sides from Northern England such as Blyth Spartans etc.
How can second and third division sides play extra games on top of their present system?
An issue with this trophy is could some teams be able to play another 12 to 14 games extra a season. I think to do this the number of games for second and third division teams would have to be cut. There can be numerous ways this can be done.
1) Perhaps the second and third division could split after 18 games then have the top 5 and bottom 5 play eachother home and way. So they play only 26 games a year. So they can free up 10 games to play reserve sides of big sides.
2) The second and third division teams could play eachother 3 times a season and then only play 27 games a season.
3) Or the 30 teams in the SFL could change to two divisions of 16 teams by bringing in two more sides into the league. So that only the second division teams would play the SPL reserve sides.
4) The entire Scottish system could re organize so the SPL is 16 teams, the SFL first division is 10 teams and the second division is 16 teams and these last 16 teams play the reserve sides of SPL sides. Other trophies would be needed for SPL sides too make up for the loss of the first team matches. Such a trophies against teams from other countries.
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