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Proposed shake up to the Football League


The Football League is set to have a massive shake up before the 2019/2020 season, according to the BBC.

They want to create an extra league, resulting in 100 clubs across five divisions, as opposed to its current conception of 92 teams across four divisions.

It is believed that the move would tackle fixture congestion and improve the financial aspects for the club’s involved.

It is also reported that the Premier League and the Football Association have backed the proposal “in principle”.

Currently, 90% of the 72 Football League clubs support the proposal for it to go ahead. A decision will be made at their annual general meeting in June 2017.

“There are clear benefits for everyone,” Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey told BBC Sport.

“It is about taking a step back to try to work out what is best for English football.

“We hope that the Football League taking this first step is the catalyst for future change.”

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Clearly, this would be a big change to the structure of English football, a vast contrast to the conception of the Premier League back in 1992, but along with a financial benefit to Football League clubs, the Football Association also believe that it will eradicate midweek fixtures and fixture congestion, and will result in the playoffs taking place on the final weekend of the regular football season.

Harvey said the Premier League and the FA have backed the idea in principle because “they can see potential benefits on an international basis”.

“The whole game needs to come together,” he added. “It is about finding solutions that supports English football for the future.”

In order for the proposal to be approved, it needs the backing of 65 Football League clubs (90%) at next year’s AGM. The decision will have to be confirmed by November 2017.

In addition, relegation from the Football League would be scrapped in the 2018-19 season before the restructure for the following season, but how the promotion and relegation system would work during 2018-19 is yet to be determined.

In terms of the additional eight teams, currently, the bottom two teams in League Two are relegated from the Football League to the National League, but Harvey has said they would not go down at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Six other clubs – in addition to the two clubs already promoted from the National League – would join the Football League.

“The logical place for the extra clubs to come from would be promoting the next six teams from the National League,” said Harvey.

“Some of those teams are already professional and the extension to the league may suit them.”

Despite playing six less league games in a season, including three home games, club’s would see their number of matches reduced from 46 to 38 per season as a result. 

Despite the potential of losing revenue from three fewer home matches, Harvey has asked the 72 clubs to take a “broader view of English football”.

“We have to make sure none of our clubs are in a financially worse position,” he added.

“Our clubs shouldn’t be the only one to shoulder the burden. We won’t be looking for clubs to take a financial haircut to support this.

“We believe focusing on weekend games will, over period of time, drive bigger attendances and increase quality of performance on the pitch.”

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In terms of supporters, the general consensus seems a positive one. Plymouth Argyle fans, for example, won’t have to make the long trip to Carlisle on a Tuesday night, leaving the Saturday match day to have a bigger attendance in theory.

“There a hardcore of fans who are more than happy to go length and breadth of the country,” he added.

“But I think less games will make the Saturday at a stadium more special and more important.

“It is going to be interesting to see how fans accept this. I’m hopeful it will be positive

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About Dale Ventham

Dale Ventham is an editor at The Sports Lowdown. He writes on the lower leagues of English football and Speedway in particular.

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