Football league club chairman makes radical suggestion to help non-league teams – and believes it could get majority backing
English football is facing fresh calls to overhaul promotion and relegation and make it easier for non-league clubs to climb the men’s pyramid.
The number of teams promoted from the National League to League Two should increase from two to three, argues Grimsby Town chairman Jason Stockwood.
Stockwood, writing in the Guardian, says there may even be a case for adding a fifth division of the professional game and reducing each tier to 20 teams.
The topic is one of several being debated by Premier League and English Football League (EFL) chiefs before an independent regulator is given sweeping powers.
“Regarding promotion, League Two is the obvious outlier, with four teams being promoted and two relegated for no discernible reason,” said Stockwood, whose club lie 16th in League Two.
“I believe a revised system with three teams promoted and three relegated is worth exploring but only as part of the negotiations on the broad range of issues set out by the Fair Game initiative, of which Grimsby are a founding member.
“This would have a knock-on effect of allowing three teams to be promoted from the National League, where many of the teams have the history, infrastructure, support and financial means to be in the EFL.”
Any change would need majority approval from the 92 clubs currently part of the Premier League and EFL but believes that would be “likely to happen”.
He added: “You only have to look at three of the promotion-chasing clubs in the National League at the moment: Chesterfield can trace their origins back to 1867, Wrexham play at the Racecourse Ground, one of the world’s oldest international stadiums, and Notts County were one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888.
“Add to that their average attendances and it’s not hard to argue that they are bigger than some League One and Two clubs.”
The EFL proposed adding a fourth tier, thereby expanding the professional game to five divisions, in 2016 and Stockwood believes the idea is worth revisiting.
He said: “This would take time to implement and may not be without its detractors, but the idea that our national game can sustain five top leagues under the same governance structure looks more plausible today, considering that the lower leagues have improved significantly.”