The creation of Premier League B teams has been put firmly back on the agenda by Manchester City, this time as a way to solve the financial crisis that is threatening lower league clubs.
City's chief executive Ferran Soriano believes second teams could be part of the solution as struggling clubs are pushed even closer to the edge by the coronavirus pandemic.
Top top-tier teams are believed to be supportive of reforms as the Premier League maintains resistance to a £250 million rescue package demand.
Jadon Sancho's departure from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund has raised questions about big English clubs can retain their best young players, sparking a debate about B teams
In addition, the biggest Premier League clubs have large squads, bloated by a transfer window that saw more players coming in than going out, as well as plenty of hungry young talent looking for a chance to shine.
Soriano argued this week that elite clubs are producing fine, young players, but frustrated by lack of opportunity they are looking abroad for the chance to play competitive football. And they are then offered back to the Premier League at eye-watering expense.
Think Jadon Sancho.
So are B teams the answer? Sportsmail looks at the pros and cons
Talented youngsters like Phil Foden at Manchester City can struggle to find a first-team place
Why do Manchester City keep banging on about B teams?
Probably because Soriano and manager Pep Guardiola are Spanish and therefore comfortable with the idea of a second XI playing within the professional leagues, which has a long-standing history in Spain.
Real Madrid’s B team, Castilla, has officially competed as the Spanish giant’s reserve side since 1952 and it was a feeder club to the Santiago Bernabeu from 1949.
Soriano put the argument succinctly this week.
‘We have a development gap of boys that are 17 or 18 - they don’t find the right place to develop and for example they are taken from us by the German teams who try to sell them back to us for at 10 times what they have paid.'
Manchester City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano is an advocate of Premier League B teams
OK, but how does it actually work?
In Europe, the most well-established B team structure is in Spain, where clubs in the top two divisions enter a reserve side to compete in football’s semi-professional third tier.
It is pretty straight forward except that reserve teams cannot compete in the same league as their first team, so only La Liga clubs can have a B team promoted to the second division.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane cut his managerial teeth with the B team, Castilla
Portugal has a similar set up. While in Germany B sides can compete in the third tier, but this season only Bayern Munich are in Liga 3, the rest are languishing in the regional leagues.
In Italy, reserve teams were allowed to join Serie C from 2018/19, with Juventus entering an U23 side, which finished mid table.
But in England (and France), reserve teams cannot enter the league. We have U23 sides, which allow a goalkeeper and three outfield players to play ‘over age’ and they compete in Premier League 2.
Isn't it totally unfair for a big Premier League Club to go head-to-head with League One and Two teams?
Yes, in theory.
If B teams existed in the English league structure as they do in Spain, they would mostly populate Leagues One and Two and the National League, although they could climb as high as the Championship.
Premier League B teams would have plenty of talent to pick from, like Liverpool's Harry Wilson
Certainly, there would be some complicated questions around financial fair play. How could one justify a League One player on an average salary of