Pompey chief leads make or break day for Football League

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

It’s make or break as the Football League today gathers to decree whether its structure is to undergo radical alteration.

Leading the agenda at the two-day Football League AGM will be the thorny issue of League Three, accompanied by the admittance of 16 Premier League B teams.

Come the end of today’s proceedings in Faro, Portugal, the prospect of acceptance of the controversial proposals among member clubs will have become clearer.

And, as ever, leading the revolt will be Mark Catlin.

It is understood Pompey’s chief executive has been invited to take the platform and voice his concerns at this morning’s crucial meeting.

The 48-year-old has been a highly-vocal critic of FA chairman Greg Dyke’s plans purported to be aimed at boosting the England team’s fortunes.

While many representatives of the 72 Football League clubs have opted to remain publicly silent on the issue, Catlin has been among those to have gone on the attack.

Now he is believed to have been asked to line up alongside Dyke during an on-stage debate.

Catlin is a long-time critic of the concept of B teams, having spent 12 years living in Spain and observed its impact on lower-division football there.

Several years ago, while a director at Bury, he wrote a blog for Total Football magazine blasting the ‘catastrophic’ system.

Today he is spearheading the debate ahead of the canvassing of votes from those present.

Of course, Catlin is not alone in his condemnation of Dyke and his FA Commission’s blueprint which has stirred up supporters, media and those in the game alike.

Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony has also weighed in with stinging criticism, in addition to adverse comments from Bristol Rovers and even the Accrington Stanley Twitter feed.

Yet the fear remains many clubs will accept tempting financial packages which are to be offered by means of compensation.

In addition, there is an alternative on display from Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey in the form of B teams joining a revamped Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for an initial two years.

The issue of B teams is not the sole topic of discussion at today’s conference – but has inevitably drawn the most attention.

Regardless, Catlin and Dyke will be among those making their points on B teams heard when addressing the conference, before it is thrown open for questions from the floor.

Once proceedings are over, a member of the Football League is required to formally propose the FA’s plans.

That would be followed by a show of hands among those present to gauge whether sufficient support is there to continue attempts to implement the plans.

Failure to attract such positive backing would see Dyke & Co’s suggestions shelved immediately.

However, if the blueprint can garner enough support, the FA will be in a position to advance further and finalise the changes to the fabric of the Football League.

And so football watches and waits, while those representing its clubs must decide what truly is in the best interests of our game.