Nothing In Reserve?
Last week I discussed BFC's youth team reforms. Today I take a look at the reserve team, or rather its disbanding.
That's right, I'm afraid that the days of attending reserve team games free of charge if you're a season ticket holder are over after 'Pool manager Ian Holloway decided to dissolve the reserve team.
According to chairman Karl Oyston (speaking to The Gazette), the reasons behind this decision are simple enough:
'We've talked for four or five seasons about the reserves and what the benefits are.
'In the Premier League no-one really plays their first-team squad players (in the reserves).
'They mostly play their youth teams or development squads, so there is not a great deal of point being in it.
'What tends to happen is that clubs organise fixtures between themselves to be played behind closed doors. That has the benefit of bringing flexibility - (the scheduling of) one or two reserve fixtures hasn't suited Ian.
'He would have preferred them to be cancelled. He had to make the reserve teams up with players in contention for the next first-team squad, which wasn't ideal.
'Another issue is that bookings and sendings-off in the reserves count towards the first team, but in behind closed doors games they don't.'
On the whole, I'm not sure where I stand on this decision; there are several pros and cons to it.
In terms of pros, a lot of clubs have developed a blasé attitude to reserve games, meaning that they're not anywhere near as useful as they used to be, especially fitness wise.
Furthermore, 'Pool aren't the only team to shelve their reserve side for non-financial reasons; the likes of Spurs have also dissolved their reserve team, preferring to send their youngsters out on loan.
And as KO points out, at times the scheduling doesn't suit the manager's plans in relation to the first team, nor do any suspensions picked up through reserve team games.
However, on the flipside, in terms of cons, will behind closed doors friendlies really contribute anything that official reserve team games wouldn't (bar greater flexibility when looking at trialists)? They certainly won't fitness wise, plus there's no guarentee that teams will field stronger line-ups against us - we may find ourselves up against youth team players again.
Also, whilst the likes of Spurs are able to loan their youngsters out, are we neccessarily in the same position? Sure, the likes of Lewis Almond have had the odd loan spell, but is there a danger that players too old for the youth team but deemed not old enough for the first team could find themselves suffering from a lack of (competitive) game time?
And lastly, will Ollie really be able to arrange games when he wants/needs them? After all, we'll presumably have to fit in with the scheduling of those teams still participating in reserve leagues, or else limit ourselves to those who aren't.
What do you think of the matter? As always, you can have your say on our forums... get involved!