Do Away with Relegation and Promotion?
I stumbled across several articles yesterday discussing Bolton chairman Phil Gartside`s proposal to re-organize the Premier League.
For those of you who are unaware, one component of the proposal entails expanding the EPL to 36 teams in two tiers (Premier League I and Premier League II), with a more even distribution of revenue to all teams and either reducing the number of spots, or eliminating altogether, relegation from tier II.
There are other elements of the plan, including rules on foreign ownership and a salary cap for players, but the most controversial component is the possible "closed shop" approach to the Premier League structure. This component is designed to address the disparity in revenue between the Big Four clubs and the rest of the league, the huge gap in revenue between Premier League and Championship, and to eliminate the financial hardship and sometimes disastrous downward spiral relegation from the Premier League can cause (e.g. Charlton and Southampton).
Critics point out any number of reasons why this plan wouldn`t work. Big clubs would surely protect their revenue streams and vote against the proposal. It would damage the ability of English clubs to compete in Europe. Should it pass, how would the 36 clubs be chosen? If based on league and table position at a given point and time, would that mean that a formerly prominent club like Leeds not be included simply because they`ve temporarily fallen outside the Championship? There`s also talk of including Celtic and Rangers in tier II. How would the SPL feel about that? How many clubs outside the chosen 36 would simply close up shop?
The goal of this proposal is noble, but its application seems impossible. Still, I`m not convinced that something like this is not in the future of English football, as money, not competition, has become the driving force. To be fair, as much as it would be disadvantageous for larger clubs, there would be a clear advantage for smaller clubs to vote for the proposal.
If the "closed shop" scenario came to pass, it would completely change the structure of the English game, which brings me to my question. If Fulham were guaranteed a spot in the 36 club hierarchy, would you be willing to live without the drama and excitement of relegation and promotion?