League Managers Association (LMA) chief executive Richard Bevan yesterday claimed that some Premier League clubs would not be opposed to scrapping relegation from the English top flight.
Bevan stated that “there are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League.”
“If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen.”
The Premier League requires a 14 team majority to vote in favour of any rule reforms. With 9 out of the 20 teams currently under foreign ownership many feel such a majority may not be too far off. Bevan was keen to point out however, that whether owners were foreign or not, from a business perspective, abolishing promotion and relegation would be appealing.
Bevan argued “It doesn’t really matter if you’re from overseas or not, does it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re from Birmingham or you’re from Burma.”
The business benefits are clear, the security of Premier League status year in year out would allow club owners to look at their investment as being safeguarded. Certain owners, previously alien to promotion and relegation in sport, might argue that with the domination at the top of the table it is merely a threat to the business of the three clubs that are relegated each season.
Yet, if it were abolished, the longstanding heritage and history of the English football pyramid would be compromised however, that surely something the fans would never allow.
The fact that relegation and all that goes with it is so widely accepted is perhaps the reason fans would be unlikely to ever take to its eradication.
The beauty of football is that on any given day, 11 men can beat 11 others, regardless of whether they wear the colours of Manchester United or Macclesfield, Liverpool or Luton. Promotion and relegation fuels this very concept, Norwich lost 7-1 in the third tier on the opening day of the 2009/10 season, just over two years later they very nearly won at Premier League champions Manchester United.
In truth, many football fans would admit to the torturous nature of supporting their team, particularly following an away day defeat on a Tuesday night in February.
However, fans will also admit that the anxiety and torment is part and parcel of supporting a team. Who will forget West Brom’s last gasp escape on the final day in 2005? Or Everton’s close shave with relegation in 1998? On both occasions the feelings of joy and despair could not have been more different for fans of those who survived and those who were relegated.
Yet, while relegation may be a bitter pill to swallow, in most cases the league table does not lie and the system merely serves to inject the Premier League with fresh, hungry sides eager for success.
Two years ago, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside suggested a two tier system at the top of English football, an idea that never got off the ground. Following Bevan’s comments, many will be hoping they can look back and say the same about this idea in two years time.
Written by Cameron Humphries