Football League proposals ‘concerning’

Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town were promoted to the Football League via the National League play-offs this term

The National League is “very concerned” about the Football League’s proposed shake-up, says chairman Brian Barwick.

The Football League wants to create an extra division with 20 teams in each from 2019-20, increasing the number of clubs from 92 to 100.

Both the Football Association and Premier League back the proposal “in principle”.

“The National League is very concerned about the potential consequences of any potential adoption,” said Barwick.

  • Football League wants extra division
  • Football League plan raises questions

“We strongly feel its attempt to re-shape the existing professional game structure has failed to take into consideration the effects of any change on football played below its proposed five divisions.

“We seriously believe it could be very damaging to the National League and its member clubs and will be determined to make that point very clear when we meet up with Football League officials to discuss their proposals.

“The National League is an ambitious and forward-thinking organisation as well as a well-established and well-loved competition and we will do everything possible to protect both its integrity and its commercial value.”


Cheltenham Town lifted the National League title this season

What the National League clubs say

BBC Sport has contacted the 18 clubs that were neither promoted nor relegated from the top-tier of English non-league football this season about the idea, with the responses ranging from “simply awful” to “long overdue”.

However, many of the clubs want to know more before making a decision.

Here are the responses:

Aldershot: Yet to respond.

Barrow: “Simply awful. This is clearly the proposal of someone completely out of touch with grassroots English football and in thrall of the elite clubs. A reduction of potential revenue through less games, a further diminution of the FA Cup to a midweek competition, and absolutely no perceived benefit to any club below the top half of the Championship. I had to check it wasn’t 1 April,”, said chairman Paul Casson.

Braintree Town: “It introduces another tier between the Premier League and non-league football, effectively relegating all but the eight clubs that are invited to join the re-organised Football League. A better structure would be a reorganised Football League with the existing Championship and League One tiers fed by a League Two North and League Two South,” said chairman Lee Harding.

Boreham Wood: No-one available for comment.

Bromley: Yet to respond.

Chester: “Until it is clear how the change in the structure of the Football League will impact upon the ability to generate revenue, i.e. reduced number of home games, potential lack of FA Cup replay revenue, introduction of Premier League B teams, it is not possible to make a decision one way or the other,” said chairman Simon Olorenshaw.

Dover Athletic: “It needs careful consideration. We foresee some issues but the devil will be in the detail,” said chairman Jim Parmenter.

Eastleigh: No-one available for comment.

Forest Green: “The proposal sounds like a good idea – 20 teams per league, ending Tuesday night games. It makes perfect sense that the top eight teams from our league should be incorporated into the Football League if this goes ahead. In fact, given that below the National League all competitions become regional, the Football League should really think about adopting the National League now. They should also standardise the number of teams that are promoted and relegated between divisions,” said chairman Dale Vince.

Gateshead: “Every National League club aspires to be in the Football League, and secondly, football needs to change and it’s a good time for us. Everybody needs to understand the detail a bit more, but in principle it’s a good idea,” said chairman Richard Bennett.

Guiseley: “We need a lot more information about the involvement of Scottish or Premier League clubs in the proposals,” said chairman Phil Rogerson.

Lincoln: “From our perspective, we feel it’s a positive move by the Football League and is an exciting opportunity for clubs at our level,” said manager Danny Cowley.

Macclesfield: Yet to respond.

Southport: “There’s been no consultation with the National League board from the Football League. There’s a lack of understanding of how the pyramid system will change – what happens to the others when the eight clubs go up?,” said a club spokesperson.

Tranmere: No comment to make at this time.

Torquay United: “I believe the lower leagues should be regionalised. Travelling the length of the country, like to Gateshead in front of paltry crowds is farcical,” said chairman Dave Phillips.

Woking: “I personally think it is a fantastic proposal and long overdue, I am definitely in favour. The National League standards have been improving year on year, one only has to ask the relegated clubs from League Two how difficult it is to get back where they came from. Furthermore there is, in my opinion, little difference between the two leagues,” said Woking football director Geoff Chapple.

Wrexham: No-one available for comment.

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