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England’s Football League to Shake Up Structure
By Drew Farmer - July 06, 2016
England’s Football League has designs on a shake-up that would see the creation of a fifth football division. In addition to the extra division within the Football League, the organisation wants to increase its number of teams from 92 to 100.
If the new plans take effect, it wouldn’t be until the 2019-20 season that they are implemented. Both the English Premier League and the Football Association have backed the plans.
At the moment, it is expected the extra teams to fill out the proposed 100 will be made up of clubs from the leagues outside of the top four divisions in England and Wales. However, there has been mooted rumours of Rangers and Celtic being invited to join the newly structured leagues. This is just at the planning stages at the moment. Any addition of the two Glasgow clubs, for now, is just speculation. Football League head Shaun Harvey has stated he wouldn’t rule out any addition of Rangers and Celtic at this point.
Why the Change Now?
Experts believe there will be several benefits to a shake-up in the division system. Most notably, it is expected that the move will ensure more matches are played on weekends and Bank Holidays. With each division containing 20 teams, down from 24 in the Championship, League One and Two, there will be fewer games played throughout the season.
Fewer midweek games could also attribute to larger attendances for weekend fixtures. In turn, higher attendances and less fixtures, will provide clubs the opportunity to make more money. In addition to fewer teams, there will be fewer fixtures, which will causes less congestion throughout the season.
Is Everyone On-Board with the Change?
Despite the English Premier League and Football Association backing the proposal, not all teams in the Football League are supportive. Bradford City chairman Mark Lawn is against the plans. He believes each team having 23 home games benefits the teams more financially. Lawn has also questioned why the system needs changing in the first place as it will hurt the smaller clubs within the Football League.
Accrington Stanley owner Andrew Holt believes it would be more beneficial to have more fixtures, rather than fewer.
Changes can only take place if 90% of the Football League clubs agree to the move at the next annual general meeting. According to reports, the proposal has not outlined how promotion and relegation will work if the new system comes into effect.
While there is a section of supporters who enjoy the midweek trips around the country, Harvey believes that fewer matches will make weekend fixtures far more “special”.