Well interesting news has appeared this morning as Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside’s has put forward a proposal to increase the Premiership to two leagues of 18 teams with 14 clubs from the Championship and Rangers and Celtic. The proposal is to be put before the Premier League at their meeting this Thursday and it raises some interesting points. Gartside cites a wider audience with the addition of Scottish clubs, fresher players as 4 games a season would be cut from the league campaign and the old chestnut of benefiting the England national side. You know, the reason that the Premiership was set up for in the first place. The amount of International trophies that England have won since 1992 is simply staggering isn’t it?
Firstly, the addition of Rangers and Celtic to the Premier League has long been mooted as a situation of when rather than how but to get there they need the permission of the Scottish FA, The Football League, The Premier League and the biggest obstacle, UEFA. Now UEFA, when they’re not attacking the Premier League in thinly veiled xenophobic attacks, claim that no club should be able to play in a league outside their own country. That would be fine if the precedent wasn’t already in place.
With Platini being a Frenchmen, you’d think he’d know that his arguement is flawed, or can he not remember where Monaco is? What about Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay, Newport County and Methyr Tydfil, all members of the English pyramid system but all Welsh clubs. Technically, Barcelona, Espanyol and Valencia play in the Spanish League but are based in Catalonia and Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao represent the Basque region. UEFA may push the point but they’re argument is already flawed by the teams mentioned above.
To get the motion passed, 14 clubs need to vote in agreement on the proposal, which is where I think the issue may fall down. Can we honestly see The Premierships big four, plus Aston Villa, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City voting for less money? Whilst the games would reduce, so would the money, but then again, for teams that drop out of the Premiership or face the real possibility of relegation, would you rather get £30 million a year than the current two year parachute payments of £11.5 million that clubs currently get.
The other worrying issue is how would the remaining 14 places be decided? Would it be a straight situation of the top 14 sides out of the Championship? What if some of the larger sides miss out due to league position when the cut off is made. If it happened tomorrow there would be some famous names missing out again, but then again what about Leicester City and Leeds United?
When the Premier League began, way back in the 1992-1993 season, Notts County and Luton Town, both missed out due to relegation but had resigned their memberships from the Football League in 1991 when the plan was concluded. Ironically, neither has ever returned to the top tier since, Luton Town in fact have just been relegated out of the Football League, due to a draconian points deduction that didn’t penalise the perpetrators, just the club.
What would happen if clubs resigned their membership from the Football League, only to finish outside the 14 team cut off. Or worryingly, would the Premier League court the 14 biggest clubs not in the Premiership to make up the new league? What would happen to the Football League and the Football Conference? Why only have Rangers and Celtic, when you could argue Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen could therotically add more to the mix than Burnley?
That would be a worrying event, which could lead to a dangerous precedent. Why not simply block clubs from promotion if they weren’t “big” enough? If they didn’t sell enough merchandise or their viewing figures deemed not large enough. Would the Premier League finally become the monster that some people always feared it would and simply banish relegation from it and have caveats for promotion. When I first read about the proposal this morning, I was sure it would fail. Now, I’m not so sure, in football, nothing surprises me when money is involved.