FA rubbishes Pearce's idea for England U-21s to join Championship

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The Independent Football

The Football Association last night distanced itself from Stuart Pearce's radical suggestion that his England under-21 team should become the 25th team in the Championship and play matches every week against club sides.

Pearce, under-21s manager for three years, gave a decidedly off-message interview in which he also accused his employers of a "massive crime" for their nine-year delay to build the national football centre at Burton upon Trent.

Given that Pearce has become an FA pet project in its bid to push English coaches into high-profile jobs, there was alarm at some of the proposals he put forward.

Pearce did not give exact details of how his plan to enter the under-21s in the Championship would work but he did intimate that he had suggested it to the FA. The obstacles and objections to such a plan are so numerous they would be impossible to list. The FA has made it clear in private that the idea is a non-starter.

Pearce said: "We were asked how we could radically look at what we are trying to achieve at international level. I threw the line in, 'Can we put an England under-21s team in the Championship to play games every week?' Don't play home games just play away games so there is an odd number of teams in the Championship.

"We fulfil a fixture maybe at West Brom [who are in the Premier League] or Coventry so I get 21 friendlies a year. On top of that all these players who are not playing regularly come and join me. Then when I have the opportunity to play a European championships qualifier I will have a team that is playing regularly who know each other."

Later, Pearce suggested players would rather play for the under-21s in the Championship than for their own clubs' reserve sides. "Whether it can be sold to the clubs [I don't know]," he told lifesapitch.co.uk. "It is whether they really want to do something radical or come back every two or four years after a major tournament and a disappointment and say, 'We are going to have to do something'.

"They are throwaway lines but if we are serious about doing something then let's do something. That is probably why we have waited 10 to 12 years [sic] to get the national football centre sanctioned this week. For me that's been a massive crime."