The EFL has declared that Celtic and Rangers are officially ruled out from joining the English Football League. In a statement, the league indicated that clubs from “non-English leagues or those outside the football pyramid” will effectively be given no right of access to the professional game in England.
Representing the 72 clubs from the renamed Football League (formerly the Championship) down to League Two, the announcement comes amidst recent, renewed speculation of a revamp to the English game. It appears now that door is completely closed to not only Celtic and Rangers, but also top teams across the rest of Europe.
With Premier League teams advocating a move for inclusion of their second or “B” teams in some level of a restructured national model, this move too has now been scuppered. An incorporated Celtic, Rangers and B team solution may have reduced the need for and prevalence of loans amongst teams from the top division, whilst also having the effect pushing talent further down the “pyramid”. In all, a stronger playing level could well have been achieved.
A Football League or League One made up of the likes of Chelsea B and Manchester United B, Celtic and Rangers, would no doubt dramatically increase the exposure of the football. But it appears this exposure and additional revenue was deemed inferior to the relevant history of the competitions and clubs. The Football League now already generates an incredible amount of income and interest when compared to many other European leagues, the top four or five excepted. That the windfall could be at the expense of one or two clubs appears to have been enough to scare all of them off.
It was always going to have the established clubs agree to adding reserve sides to their league, despite the push from the top level. Not only is it unsurprising to see the Football League clubs pulling away from such a move but there is also fear of confusion and potential outrage amongst fans. Not to mention the difficulties associated with relegation and promotion. These appear just some of the other obstacles that have now been avoided.
The Football League’s “Whole Game Solution” claims to have consulted with its’ clubs over a six-week period in an aim to better the national football landscape. It appears now that the only motion soon be approved is that of League Three, with teams moving down from League Two and up from the National League. This will form a tighter group of 20 clubs per competition rather than the current 24.
How this decision impacts the Premier League clubs and ultimately the English national team, only time will tell.