DCSIMG

Catlin ready for central role against FA plans

Jed Wallace in action for Pompey on the final day of the League Two season at Fratton Park. Blues chief executive Mark Catlin believes clubs at that level of the Football League ladder need to think of the long-term ramifications of the England Commission report

Jed Wallace in action for Pompey on the final day of the League Two season at Fratton Park. Blues chief executive Mark Catlin believes clubs at that level of the Football League ladder need to think of the long-term ramifications of the England Commission report

 

He’s called it the biggest threat the lower leagues of English football has ever seen.

And if anyone should know, it’s Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin.

Catlin has quickly become a figurehead in the fight against the proposal to accommodate Premier League B teams in the Football League.

It’s been an impassioned defence he has launched, branding the plan – part of the FA’s and Greg Dyke’s England Commission report – an ‘absolute abomination’ in The News.

Now Catlin has expanded on his thoughts on the subject, and underlined the need for unity among league clubs.

That means ignoring the £2m carrot being dangled in front of them to accept the measures.

Catlin promised he will be championing the battle against the plan at the Football League’s AGM in Portugal on June 3.

He said: ‘I’m passionate about this. We can’t sit back on our laurels and think it’s not going to happen.

‘Unless we make a stand at every opportunity it will get pushed through.

‘There are a lot of chairman at the Football League conference struggling to pay their wages. So inducements from the Premier League could lead to them taking a short-term view.

‘I’m looking at a longer-term view – and it will be the end of our Football League structure. This isn’t about Portsmouth, it’s about football and we need to unite.

‘The league conference will be lively next month, and no-one will be jumping up and down more than me. It’s the biggest threat to lower league football this country has ever seen. It’s that bad.’

Catlin’s position of strength to comment on the plan arrives from spending 12 years in Spain.

Three of those years were spent as president of Club Deportivo Jávea – a club operating in the regional section of the Spanish system.

He is incredulous their system is held up as an example to the English game.

Catlin said: ‘I’m comfortable being a figurehead for this. I’ve lived in Spain for 12 years and know the system inside out.

‘The commission’s report lauds the Spanish system. I honestly can’t believe it. There have been strikes there because the players aren’t getting paid!

‘I was president of a Spanish club for three years, and watched the game there.

‘They’d ask me how do you do it in England? How do you get the attendances you do? It boiled down to the league system.

‘In Spain, it’s great for a select few clubs – but not the rest.

‘I’ve seen third-tier games in Spain with 200 people turning up. This is what we’re looking at here.’

Catlin feels the flawed nature of the ‘League 3’ proposal is manifold – and that has ensured positive elements of the report have not received airtime.

He said: ‘The thing we seem to have missed is we can’t discriminate against EU players.

‘So you could have the ridiculous situation of Manchester United B in League One with no English players in their side. It’s absolutely ludicrous.

‘There are elements of the report which are really good. We need 3G pitches with our weather in winter and we need more grass-roots coaches. But this plan has totally overshadowed it.

‘There is a real credibility issue with the FA if this happens.’

 

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