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Football League proposes radical overhaul of English club game structure

Published 19/05/2016

Celtic players celebrate after winning the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match following their clash Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images
Celtic players celebrate after winning the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match following their clash Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Singer Andrea Bocelli waves to supporters on the pitch along with Claudio Ranieri Manager of Leicester City prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Aberdeen's Andrew Considine (left) and Celtic's Leigh Griffiths battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Patrick Roberts of Celtic celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Patrick Roberts of Celtic celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's Patrick Roberts (27) celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow.
Celtic's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Leigh Griffiths during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Callum McGregor (left) and Aberdeen's Kenny McLean battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic supporters hold scarves up above their heads during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's Patrick Roberts celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Patrick Roberts (left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal with team-mates during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell (centre) and chairman Ian Bankier (left) in the stands before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Patrick Roberts scores his second goal of the game during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Patrick Roberts scores his second goal of the game during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Patrick Roberts of Celtic celebrates sciring his second goal with team mates of the game during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Aberdeen's Ash Taylor (left) and Celtic's Leigh Griffiths in action during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Aberdeen's Shaleum Logan (left) and Celtic's Kieran Tierney in action during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown of Celtic presents a wreath in memory of the Hillsborough Disaster during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic fans display banners in the stands before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic Club ambasadorJay Beatty and Hoopy the Huddle hound during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Aberdeen goalkeeper Adam Collin looks dejected during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Peter Lawwell during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Ronny Deila Celtic Manager looks on during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Jay Beatty, Ambassador for Celtic Football Club's Celtic FC Foundation, with club mascot Hoopy the Huddle Hound at half-time of the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Mikael Lustig scores his side's third goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Aberdeen's Niall McGinn scores his side's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Shaleum Logan of Aberdeen and Tomas Rogic of Celtic during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Ash Taylor of Aberdeen and Nir Biton of Celtic in action during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko (left) and Aberdeen's Jonathan Hayes battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon celebrates winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Stefan Johansen celebrates winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Ronny Deila Celtic Manager looks on during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown of Celtic celebrates during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's (left to right) Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Christie and Gary Mackay-Steven celebrate winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown applauds supporters during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown applauds supporters during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's (left to right) Tom Rogic, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew, Kris Commons, Gary Mackay-Steven and Craig Gordon celebrate winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic players celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic players celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
Celtic manager Ronny Deila (left) and Scott Brown celebrate winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jay Beatty, Ambassador for Celtic Football Club's Celtic FC Foundation celebrates on the shoulders of Stefan Johansen as his side celebrate winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates winning the league after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Ronny Deila Celtic Manager looks on during the Ladbroke Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic players celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown of Celtic celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown of Celtic celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Scott Brown of Celtic celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic players celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 08: Celtic fans celebrate at the end of the match during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park on May 8, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

The Football League has proposed the introduction of a fifth division in a radical shake-up of the English club game.

The governing body wants four divisions of 20 teams below the Premier League by the 2019/20 season.

With 24 teams currently in each Football League division, the plan raises the prospect of seven teams being relegated from the Championship in 2018/19 to allow for three to be promoted, while no clubs would drop out of League Two in that campaign.

Two teams would be promoted from the National League and six other sides would be added to the newly-formed League Three, taking the total number of professional clubs to 100.

The six additional clubs are likely to also come from the National League, although the proposals will reopen the debate on Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic playing in England.

While not ruling out the involvement of the Glasgow clubs, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said such a move would be difficult.

"The whole discussion can be had," he said. "But I suspect the wider this gets drawn, the harder it would be to deliver to our clubs and the rest of the stakeholders in the game."

Football League clubs have been notified about the plan and will vote on the changes in June 2017. A 90 per cent approval rate, or 65 of the current 72 clubs, is required to get the go-ahead.

Harvey says the plan, designed to alleviate fixture congestion by cutting down on midweek games, has the approval of both the Premier League and the Football Association.

"The Football League has recognised that fixture congestion is one of the major issues facing the professional game in this country," he said.

"We have seen a number of public spats this year in relation to scheduling and dealt privately with many others. The season only has a number of finite dates, and they are sought by all of us to try to get our games on at prime times.

"Fans and clubs have both suffered, in varying degrees, as a result of competition organisers having to move games to meet essential broadcasting requirements, increasing the move away from the traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off time.

"Also midweek fixtures are often played at a distance and the crowds are usually well below the average.

"To address the number of fixtures and create greater flexibility in the calendar, we are going to ask our clubs to consider a proposal towards altering the structure of our competition."

Should the proposal get the green light, Harvey also plans for discussions on implementing a winter break, scrapping FA Cup replays and moving entire rounds of the FA Cup to midweek slots. The future of the Community Shield will also be considered.

The biggest obstacle facing Harvey is likely to be persuading Championship clubs to vote, like turkeys for Christmas, in favour of the changes knowing an extra four of them will find themselves a division further away from the Premier League.

"Potentially, in the first year, of course," said Harvey. "But thereafter your percentage chance of promotion is increased with four less teams. There's always going to be that first year where that particular set of circumstances will prevail.

"We are looking at change for 2019/20 so clubs have plenty of time to see this coming. We have to resolve how relegation and promotion would be dealt with in the lead-up to that period."

Harvey ruled out the possibility of Premier League clubs fielding so-called 'B' teams in the lower divisions, but they could be involved in a revamped Football League Trophy - until recently known as the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

The Football League had consisted of four national divisions since 1958, when Divisions Three North and South were merged. The Premier League was formed in 1992, leaving the Football League as three divisions.

The Football Association has held talks with the Premier League and Football League about revamping the club game.

In a statement, the FA said: "We have said for some time that English football needs to look again at the congested fixture schedule for the benefit of all.

"As such, we have been discussing initial ideas with the Premier League and Football League. These are interesting draft proposals and we look forward to further discussions over the coming months."

A Premier League spokesman said: "The structure of the Football League is a matter for it and its member clubs.

"It is no secret that the Premier League, Football League and Football Association are open to discussing potential improvements in the structure of the fixture list.

"The earliest any changes could come into effect is beyond the 2019/20 season, so there is nothing imminent or a pressing timetable."

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