By Thomas Slatcher
The English Football League has cancelled plans of the proposed shake up of 100 teams across five leagues. The news comes after the EFL claimed they wanted ‘an extra division and have 20 teams across the five leagues by 2019’ back in May.
However, the FA have now told the Football League that the changes will no longer go ahead, with the proposal no longer being viable. The new set up would have involved FA cup fixtures being played midweek and has been claimed to be able to ‘tackle fixture congestion’ by members of the English Football League. The FA have since dismissed the proposed changes completely with the new broadcasting deal for the FA cup which is worth a reported £820m, meaning FA cup fixtures will have to be played on weekends. “With the weekend slots not being available, there is no way we can meet the financial conditions” explained EFL chief Shaun Harvey. The chief executive then seemed to take a swipe at the FA’s decision to end talks about the changes, claiming it was done so “without fully understanding the financial outcomes the new model could bring”.
The FA have since come out to defend their decision and claimed they are “fully committed” to helping the Premier League and EFL in tackling fixture congestion. It is no secret of the pressure the FA, Premier League and EFL are under in the fight against fixture congestion, with many managers calling for winter breaks to be introduced, something that already happens countries such as Germany and Spain. However, due to the recent TV deal, the room for flexibility in terms of discussions of a potential winter break have seemed to worsen. Making it highly unlikely until at least 2019.
So what does this mean for the future of English Football? Well, similar to the previous idea of having Premier League ‘B’ teams introduced to the football league, this idea seems very much dead in the water. So back to square one it is. The real question is, does English Football really need a revamp? If its not broke, why fix it? Right? This is an attitude that is very much mirrored by fans across the country, with change being something not likely to be taken well. In reality, not only would any proposed changes be changing the structure of English Football, but the tradition of English Football. We as fans enjoy waking up on Boxing Day morning and going out to watch the football, lets be honest, it’s what makes English Football so special.
Football has become nothing but a money ball, especially since the introduction of the Premier League in 1992. Change would also see clubs see a reduction in revenue, with one of the main modifications being the opportunity to expand the divisions, reducing leagues of 24 teams to 20 from the Championship all the way down to the conference leagues. Money some clubs simply cannot afford to be missing out on, especially in the lower leagues. Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg expressed his concern saying, “As you go down the football pyramid, clubs rely heavily on gate receipts, unless you have an owner who can just throw money at the football club, which many don’t”.
In terms of what’s next for the EFL’s plans in revamping English Football, maybe no change is required after all, and if there is, it’s very much a minor one required. This is now the second lot of proposed change set out by the Football League, and both have received a negative response from clubs and fans alike. The question the English Football League should be answering now isn’t ‘what idea is next?’ but ‘is there need for change at all?’ Have the English governing bodies become so obsessed with the concept of changing the foundations of English football, they’ve convinced themselves there’s a need for change which in reality, isn’t there.