With his second blog in as many days, Adam Guest proposes an alternative to the EFL proposals
Browsing through Facebook this morning I stumbled across an article shared by the head of the Walsall Supporters Trust, which was revealing that all Football League clubs had been asked for their views on proposals for expanding the league structure to increase the number of teams in the pyramid and improve the calendar.
Knowing what we already do about EFL`s Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, we know this is his way of asking “How can we get B teams into the pyramid”. We also know he`s unlikely to accept “It`s fine as it is, please stop asking”, as an answer, so I thought I`d try and come up with some proposals of my own. I mean, how hard can it be to come up with a proposal less stupid and less unpopular than B teams? We`re about to find out as I offer my “sat on a train with nothing better to do” proposals for improving the football league.
1 – Increase from 92 teams to 96
Easy enough, in the final season before the proposals are introduced, you promote the champions of the Conference (or whatever it`s called these days) as well as the four sides that would usually make the playoffs. You also relegate the side that finishes bottom of League Two, as the idea of no relegation for a season isn`t something I like.
2 – Two additional divisions, meaning six leagues, each with 16 teams
Stay with me on this one. The Premier League, The Championship, and League One down to League Four. It would see a drastic cut in the number of league games from 46 down to 30. The top two from each league would go up, the bottom two from each league would come down, and playoffs would involve the sides finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th, as well as the side that finished 14th in the league above, similar to the system currently adopted in Scotland. The clubs would automatically be horrified at the prospect of losing 8 home games from the calendar, but we`ll come to that shortly. What it would do is immediately make football more affordable for supporters, all season tickets would presumably drop by at least 1/4 to account for the slashing in fixtures. It would also potentially increase away attendances around the country as regular supporters wouldn`t need to pay out for all the extra home games. However, that`s not the main reason for the idea.
3 – All league games played on a Saturday
This is, however. The football season would start on whichever Saturday fell between the 4th and 10th August, and finish on the first Saturday in May. This gives 40 available Saturdays, meaning all 30 games would be able to be played on a weekend and will consign midweek trips for Carlisle down to Plymouth, or from Cardiff across to Norwich, to the bin where they belong. This should also increase attendances. But what about all the spare Saturdays?
4 – International weeks
Personally I think these are a pain in the arse; especially in the last couple of years when we keep having games called off as a result of all the international superstars in our ranks. Personally it would be better if the League programme was suspended for that week to avoid clubs being disadvantaged by having a backlog of games when their promotion/relegation rivals might not.
5 – The FA Cup
This could stay exactly as it is, without the need to scrap replays. FA Cup games could be played on a Saturday, and replays could take place 10 days later as they currently do. Fixture congestion would also no longer be an excuse for disrespecting the competition and, with the decrease in league games, teams would end up fielding stronger sides as you wouldn`t need to be constantly resting players due to congestion. Suddenly, all of your Saturdays have been accounted for.
But clubs are still eight home games light and we have no midweek fixtures, how do we account for that?
6 – The League Cup
Return it to its pre-millennium format and play the early rounds over two legs, guaranteeing all clubs at least one additional home game. The first round would see the 64 clubs in leagues 1 to 4 enter and play the first round over two legs. The 32 first round winners would then be joined by Premier League and Championship clubs for a straight knockout midweek competition. If you opted to make all rounds up to and including the semi finals a two-legged format, that`s 12 of your Tuesday nights accounted for.
7 – The Football League Trophy
So the Football League wants a 64 team competition with a group format. Fine, now you have one. Teams from Leagues 1 to 4 split into 16 groups of 4, seeded so each group contains one group from each division. Play home and away in the groups, guaranteeing all sides three home games in the competition, before a Champions League style, two-legged knock out system after the group stages with group winners being paired against group runners-up in the next round. In fact, I`d deliberately schedule it to clash with the Champions League, as nobody at our level cares about it.
There we go. I started this post as I pulled out of Euston, and as I finish we`re just arriving in Milton Keynes. Half an hour of light thought, and all of footballs scheduling problems have been sorted. No scrapping of cup competitions, no axing of FA Cup replays, no last minute cancellations due to International call-ups. It guarantees clubs 19 home games a season, the same as the ‘5 leagues of 20 teams’ idea, there’s no need for a winter break, and there’s NO F***ING B TEAMS!!!!