The English Football League has recently released their proposed changes to the season calendar. Some of these changes includes a winter-break being introduced and the regionalisation of the bottom two tiers of professional football in this country, currently Leagues One & Two, with adding an extra 12 teams to the EFL. However, just how would these affect English football?
It is no hidden fact that several countries in Europe already have a winter-break, and these also have a successful national team to some extent. The Bundesliga, Germany’s top-division, has a three to four week break half-way through the season – which also covers the Christmas and New Year period. Other divisions such as Serie ‘A’ in Italy and Spain’s La Liga have a winter-break between the last weekend before the 25th December and continues until after New Years’ Day.
We should note that the Bundesliga only has eighteen teams in it, that’s four less games for each club than in the English Premier League. It is traditional in this country to have a congested schedule around the festive period, and that shouldn’t change. Whilst both Italy and Spain’s top-divisions also have the same number of teams as the top-flight in England, they only have one domestic cup each season; Coppa Italia and Copa Del Rey. We have to endure the EFL Cup, or the League Cup for those a bit behind, and the world-renown FA Cup. That means if a team made it to the semi-finals of the League Cup, they are forced to play up to ten games in 30 days – perhaps the reason why England’s national team continues to disappoint.
At least one English club competing in the Champions League will also be playing in the EFL Cup semi-finals, and that leads to a cram-full second-half to the season. Perhaps a winter-break would be a healthy change to football in England, but there is of course the knock-on effects. The proposed changes from the English Football League also include FA Cup ties being played mid-week; which instantly plays down the importance of the competition, although it the FA want to maximise Premier League and Football League fixtures on weekends and bank holidays.
It is yet unknown as to what the exact reasoning is behind these proposed changes but I can assure one thing, money is possibly a large factor in this.
Then you have the idea of turning Leagues One & Two into regional divisions, assuming north and south. The reason for this is quite obvious – the introduction of Premier League B-teams, something the Football Association has been wanting for years. We have already seen academy teams implemented into the EFL Trophy, or Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and that has been controversial to say the least, albeit it only being a one-year ‘trial’.
If supporters are to feel strongly against anything, it is definitely Premier League B-teams. There’s plenty of reasons why as well. I won’t go into too much detail apart from the lack of atmosphere, destroying the game etc. Some of the big top-flight clubs including; both Manchester clubs, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all declined the opportunity to compete in the EFL Trophy. Perhaps they view B-teams in the English Football League as a downgrade, although the FA see it in a different light. The governing body for Football in England think youngsters playing against established and professional footballers would improve the future of this country’s national team.
A number of clubs have already shown their support against these proposals. League Two side Doncaster Rovers consulted their fans, whist Yeovil Town have published a statement against the changes with the Glovers believing ”Premier League and Championship clubs are getting richer and richer, whilst clubs such as Yeovil Town are getting poorer”.
Some, or in fact most, would say all these proposals are solely to benefit teams from the top two tiers of the English football pyramid, and it is a fact that The FA have little, if any, sympathy for lower-league clubs. If the regionalisation of League One & Two does occur, fans may want it to be at least sides from the National League to fill up the spaces – and not clubs from Scotland or Premier League B-teams.
From what I have read, not many people are truly against the winter break, as it probably benefits everyone; players, supporters and the national team. But what has fuelled the anger is the idea to even suggest an introduction of regional leagues in England, it has never been that way and it shouldn’t change. At the end of the day, no one at the top has one ounce of care for anyone associated below the Championship. That to me is the killing of the beautiful game.