Clubs wary of radical League revamp plan

Most Football League clubs, including Blackpool and Fleetwood, want more time and information before commenting on radical restructure plans or deciding whether to support them.

Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 7:13 am
Football League proposes big changes

Proposals have been put forward by the Football League to increase the number of teams from 72 to 80, with the three divisions of 24 becoming four of 20.

The Press Association approached the 72 current Football League teams, plus newly promoted Cheltenham and Grimsby, for their views on a scheme which would mean eight fewer games per season for all clubs.

All but nine of the clubs felt it was too early to comment or were unavailable. Five welcomed the discussions and four opposed the plans.

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A Fleetwood Town spokesman told The Gazette the club had no comment to make at this stage, while Blackpool did not respond to our enquiry.

AFC Fylde, who have ambitions to become a League club and are going full-time in a bid to win promotion to the National League next season, told The Gazette they had not been consulted.

The four clubs to oppose the scheme when contacted by PA included Preston North End and Blackpool’s League Two rivals Accrington (the others were Bradford and Hartlepool).

Hartlepool chairman Gary Coxall said: “From what I’ve read, the proposals don’t support League One and League Two at all.”

Bradford chairman Mark Lawn said: “The only reason I can think of is that, yet again, the Championship clubs want it.”

The League believes the new structure would alleviate fixture congestion by removing almost all midweek matches, though the loss of four home games per club would leave a sizeable hole in coffers.

League One play-off finalists Millwall were among the clubs more receptive to the idea, as were Championship outfit Ipswich, whose managing director Ian Milne said: “In principle the idea is good and would de-clutter a very crowded fixture schedule.”

The changes would not come into effect until 2019-20, with the clubs set to vote on the issue in June next year.

Blackpool have confirmed pre-season home fixtures against Blackburn on July 23 and Bury on July 30. Both Saturday matches kick-off at 3pm.