Believe it or not, @sushi_football isn’t really a fan of U23 gimmick teams in J3. Here, he explains why.

I don’t really know who to address this to. I don’t whether to aim this at J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai. I don’t know whether to aim this at Sky Perfect. I don’t know whether to aim it at the clubs involved. So I’m just going to use my J.League shotgun and spray them all and hope some sticks.

The U23 teams in J3 – either take it seriously, or don’t bother.

This last weekend, FC Tokyo U23 hosted Tochigi SC at Ajinomoto Field. FC tokyo, ACL entrants lest we forget, could only field three substitutes – one of those being a goalkeeper. A team with the resources of FC Tokyo should be able to field a full complement of players. Unless they’re suffering from an injury crisis that I haven’t read about, they should show the league & their opponents some respect and at least cover the possibility of injuries / fatigue. There should be no discernible reason that a team connected with a club the size of FC Tokyo can’t field a full squad in a game. None. Especially a home game.

In J2, there have often been instances of teams not fielding a full number of substitutes. But this has always been justified on financial grounds, saving money on travel expenses that the clubs have to pay. V-Varen Nagasaki are proponents of this, but they only ever sacrifice one squad place for it. Let’s not forget, this was a home game for FC Tokyo. There is no valid reason that they shouldn’t have been able to put a full squad out.

If it feels like I’m singling out FC Tokyo, I apologize. Gamba Osaka U23 only fielded four substitutes in their match at Blaublitz Akita – but without having knowledge of their budget, I can understand that from a financial standpoint identical to the point made above about V-Varen Nagasaki. What becomes difficult to justify is the fact the only times they have fielded a full squad is when they have faced the other U23 sides. Do they feel they don’t have to bother when playing real teams? I’d love to hear their reasoning.

Another bone I have to pick relating to these teams is the fact that Sky Perfect, the official broadcaster of the J.League, decided to show the “derby” between Gamba U23 and Cerezo U23 live on TV. There are plenty of good stories in J3: Oita Trinita looking to get back up to J2 at the first time of asking; Kagoshima Utd in their first ever professional season; AC Nagano Parceiro looking to make good on their potential. A de facto reserve team game should not be the only live game that you show on your premium channels. With the decision to show that game, it tells me that, between them, the J.League & Sky Perfect don’t really care about J3 so much. I get that it is about ratings, but the league have to know that other teams are far more deserving of airtime.

In fact, a lot of what the J.League and Sky Perfect have done has been absolute nonsense for the league – and yes, I’m looking squarely at the gone-but-not-forgotten J-U22 selection rubbish.

Yes, the standard of teams might not be that good in J3. But the J.League, and the U23 teams themselves, should not be demeaning those teams by making them play in a league against teams that, on the face of it, have no desire to be there and no desire to progress beyond their own personal development. Tochigi SC got the rough end of the stick on Sunday, as they had the “pleasure” of playing an FC Tokyo side that contained Muriqui – he of Guangzhou Evergrande and Asian Champions League fame. He was given a run out in order to increase his fitness so he can push his claims for an FC Tokyo starting XI place. But Tochigi are a real team, with real ambitions. Is it fair that they had to face Muriqui, while most other teams won’t? Team selections, unless you have inside information, are inherently surprising, but could Tochigi SC have conceivably prepared to face Muriqui? Oh, and he scored the equalizer for FCT U23.

Once again J3 – and I mean the REAL J3 – is being sidetracked by other, unnecessary diversions. I long for the day when J3 is treated like the real league it deserves to be.

Do it properly, or don’t do it at all.

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