Football League wants new five-league, 100-club system

Football League wants new five-league, 100-club system

English football could be heading for its biggest shake-up since the creation of the Premier League in 1992.

The Football League wants to create an extra division with 20 teams in each from 2019-20.

It would mean England has 100 teams in five divisions, up from 92. There are currently 24 teams in the Championship, League One and League Two.

The Football League says the move would tackle fixture congestion and boost the finances of its members.

The Premier League and the Football Association have backed the proposal “in principle”.

Of the current 72 Football League clubs, 90% must 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.”

However, the proposal has attracted mixed reaction from Football League clubs.

Accrington owner Andrew Holt said it had “no merit”, while Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn believes it “has value”.

Other club bosses complained they had not been told about the plan before it was announced on Thursday.

‘Football League shake-up would see clubs struggle financially’

Why change the current system?

The Football League believes the move would help:
◾Ensure more games are played on weekends and Bank Holidays;
◾Remove fixture congestion and clashes;
◾Help Football League clubs make more money;
◾Keep the play-off finals on the last weekend of the domestic 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.”

The FA said the fixture schedule needs looking at “for the benefit of all”.

“These are interesting draft proposals and we look forward to further discussions over the coming months,” it added.

Bradford joint-chairman Mark Lawn believes the current system should not be changed.

“We’ve had this structure for years because it has suited the majority of clubs, so why change it?” said Lawn, whose team are taking part in the League One play-offs.

“What they don’t understand is that currently we have 23 home games. We need the crowds. Losing four home games means we lose four incomes.”

Brentford chief executive Mark Devlin thinks the Football League should be praised for an “innovative and far-reaching approach”.

“These proposals are a really good start for how we can tackle some of the problems Football League clubs are facing,” he added.

How would the restructure be implemented?

For the proposal to be approved, it needs the backing of 65 Football League clubs (90%) at next year’s AGM.

The Football League says its board is offering “no recommendation other than asking its members to give full consideration to the proposal”.

The decision will have to be confirmed by November 2017.

Relegation from the Football League would be scrapped in the 2018-19 season before the restructure for the following season.
How the promotion/relegation system would work during 2018-19 is still to be determined.

Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart said he was concerned the proposal could widen existing financial gulfs between the divisions.

“There is also a divide between the Championship and League One and Two and the gaps need filling in,” he added.