The English Football League -- the professional league structure below the Premier League -- is undergoing an overhaul. But after Thursday's announcement, it's looking like an entirely less dramatic one than initially speculated. The EFL says that "Premier League B Teams, clubs from non-English leagues or those outside the English football pyramid" will not be included in their plans going forward.
Scottish soccer has been in some financial difficulty since 2009, when their television partner Setanta Sports went bankrupt. This has led to near-constant speculation about the country's two big giants, Celtic and Rangers, jumping ship to join the English pyramid. There are currently no Scottish or Northern Irish teams in the English pyramid, while there are three Welsh clubs currently in the EFL or Premier League -- Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport County. There are other Welsh clubs in non-league football that could be promoted into the EFL, most notably fifth-tier side Wrexham.
Premier League teams will be disappointed to not have their B teams up for consideration, as will people who care more about the England national team than the lower-tier club they support. B teams have been a very effective bridge from youth to top flight soccer for some of the stars of the Spanish and German national teams. Letting them participate in the league system would prevent talented players who experience a blip in their development in their late teens or early 20s from getting lost in short-term loans and lower leagues for the rest of their career.
But the reality of German and Spanish soccer is that, while the top clubs enjoy incredible support and a handful of second- and third-tier teams do well too, smaller local clubs do not experience the same level of support as English clubs do. There are clubs in the fifth tier of English soccer that outdraw third-division teams in Germany and Spain. It's easier to shut out smaller independent clubs in countries where they don't have the same level of support that they have in England.
Whether or not this is a good thing depends on what you think the point of a national soccer pyramid is. If you think it should be about developing the best possible product for the top flight and the best possible players for the national team, the EFL has probably made the wrong choice in your view. But if you think it's about giving every club a chance to build a fan base and thrive, the EFL has succeeded.