Football League plans ‘fifth division’ in radical revamp

London (AFP) – English football could be set for its biggest revamp in decades after the Football League proposed a plan to introduce a fifth division into the professional game.

Football League chiefs want to have four divisions of 20 teams below the Premier League by the 2019-20 campaign as they seek a solution to fixture congestion.

With 24 teams currently in each Football League division, the plan raises the prospect of seven teams being relegated from the Championship in 2018-19 to allow for three to be promoted, while no clubs would drop out of League Two in that campaign.

Two teams would be promoted from the current fifth tier National League and six other sides would be added to the newly-formed League Three, taking the total number of professional clubs to 100.

The proposals will reopen the debate on Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic playing in England, but Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said that move would be difficult.

“The whole discussion can be had,” he said. “But I suspect the wider this gets drawn, the harder it would be to deliver to our clubs and the rest of the stakeholders in the game.”

Football League clubs have been notified about the plan and will vote on the changes in June 2017.

A 90 per cent approval rate, or 65 of the current 72 clubs, is required to get the go-ahead.

Harvey said the plan, designed to alleviate fixture congestion by cutting down on midweek games, has the approval of both the Premier League and the Football Association.

“The Football League has recognised that fixture congestion is one of the major issues facing the professional game in this country,” he said.

Should the plan get the green light, Harvey also wants to discuss implementing a winter break, scrapping FA Cup replays and moving entire rounds of the FA Cup to midweek slots.

But the proposals have already met with resistence in some quarters and Bradford’s joint chairman Mark Lawn said: “It’s ridiculous.

“We’ve had this structure for years because it has suited the majority of clubs, so why change it?”

 

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