In a decision which most Non League fans will support, implementation of a five tier league system has been cancelled after the Football Association and English Football League failed to agree in talks over the proposal.
The two authorities had initially planned to create the system by 2019, but the changes became unfeasible after it was found that extra dates for league games would have to be built into an already congested fixture list.
With 72 teams already in the EFL, the proposal would mean finding an extra 28 teams to be distributed into the fifth league, aswell as expanding the exiting leagues. This in principle would mean that 6 teams would move from the National League into the fifth division. However, opposition has been extremely strong against the proposal, from all walks of the footballing community.
The positives of such a scheme were well championed by the FA, claiming that the additional league would help produce more money for EFL clubs, but no mention on how the move would help non league teams.
Exeter City chairman echoed the thoughts of many supporters, telling BBC News:
“As you go down the pyramid the more you’re reliant on your gate receipts, unless you have some kind of philanthropic chairman who’s going to throw money in, which we don’t.”
It seems that the attitude of many people in the game is “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.
With more teams in the league means less games, which obviously effects the money coming into clubs. Again, it all comes down to money.
We have already seen the adverse effect of the Checkatrade Trophy and the involvement of U23 sides. Clubs who play against these sides report some of their lowest ever attendance figures to games, even lower than the often maligned League Cup, or EFL Cup as it is now known. The other day a U23 Leicester City side played in the Checkatrade Trophy with three Premier League winners starting, including striker Leonard Ulloa and centre half Marcin Wasilewski. They ran out easy winners.
How can such a competition benefit clubs at the lower end of the spectrum? Although it is a good thing that young players at top clubs are now playing a football in a senior competition, the loan system is better suited for development of young players.
The EFL have not given up hope however and are reported to be welcoming of a change in stance from the FA.
Photo credit – The Football League