SBD/Issue 29/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Bolton Chair Gartside Calls For Restructuring Of Premier League

Gartside (l) Calling For Restructuring
Of English Premier League
English Premier League (EPL) club Bolton Wanderers Chair Phil Gartside has called for a "restructuring of the Premier League that would see two leagues of 18 teams with the possible abolition of relegation," according to Steve Wilson of the London TELEGRAPH. Gartside said, "We have to start considering what the structure of the league is. And it is time to look at two Premier Leagues -- Premier League One and Premier League Two -- and the way the finance is allocated." He added the plan would "solve the problems of the winter break and supporting the England team." Wilson notes Gartside's ideas are "likely to cause consternation [in] some quarters, especially among lower league clubs who ... would effectively be barred from ever joining the elite level of English football." Gartside admitted that the proposals "might be radical but maintains that clubs should not fear change." Gartside: "It would be revolutionary but I don't think this would be as revolutionary as when the Premier League was set up, and we should open our minds to change. I know a lot of Football League clubs won't like it but a lot will." Gartside also suggested that "moves need to be made to guard clubs from foreign tycoons and a debate started on the possibility of a wage cap similar to that in the top American sports leagues." Wilson notes the "timing of Gartside's comments is important" as the EPL is "approaching a situation where overseas investors could soon become the majority, meaning forcing through any major changes to the structure of the league would require their support" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/24).

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