Last weekend I attended the EFL meeting at Walsall Football Club where the main focus on the agenda, and the topic on everybody’s mind at the moment, was the ‘Whole Game Solution’. The scheme has not had the greatest of explanations since its launch in May and this has led to a lot of speculation, confusion and panic amongst supporters, Chairmen and Chief Executives alike regarding the future of the game.
As a club we asked you to complete a survey conveying your feelings on this topic, the result of which was an emphatic no. I agreed with your feelings and took the results into the meeting where I met with other Chief Executives who had similar results to us, showing that it is something that supporters are quite clearly concerned about.
Because of the concern that many clubs – ourselves included – have had over the past two months the EFL board held a meeting of their own before Walsall. During this meeting they decided that if the decision is to extend the number of clubs in the pyramid, then these extra teams will come from the National League.
There will be no Premier League B teams, there will be no teams from Scotland or Wales and there will be no Winter Break for Leagues One, Two, or Three if another division is created.
The decision of whether to extend the leagues has been deferred and will be put to the clubs in February at the next EFL meeting where there will be more meat on the bones and more clarity on the idea.
The EFL board have stated that the priority of this scheme is to generate increased revenue for all the clubs in all the divisions and that one of the ways to do this is to increase weekend matches which provide higher revenue and to decrease mid-week matches which provide less.
The FA Cup rounds four and five would then have to become mid-week fixtures and it would see all the EFL divisions begin their season on the same weekend. The FA would then need to make decisions themselves in regards to when cup replays would be played because the FA Cup is their flagship competition.
Whatever the outcome there remains a long way to go before anything changes and the bottom line is that these changes will not take place until the 2019/2020 season and that the biggest obstacle is going to be the restructure of the leagues. Championship teams would need to be demoted to League One, League One sides to League Two and so forth and It is how this is going to work in regards to structuring and cost.
If you are in the championship and get relegated for finishing 8th or 9th bottom then there is going to be a huge financial loss. 75% of clubs are going to need to back this change, which is always difficult for obvious reasons.
Chesterfield are currently very concerned with this proposal but remain – as always – open minded which is important. The future of the game has got to be the priority and it was said in the meeting that a large number of Championship clubs are currently struggling financially to play in that division. This is obviously a problem for smaller Championship sides who are now having to spend large sums of money on players to even compete in that league against teams who have had parachute payments. There are also similar issues when coming from League Two to League One.
It is these issues that have brought across the ‘Whole Game Solution’ scheme and something has got to be found that solves these issues. There will be a number of smaller meetings within the next few months where just a selected few teams will meet at a time as opposed to the whole 72 and decisions from these meetings will be taken into February’s larger meeting.
I will continue to liaise with the supporters in regards to the outcome of this meeting and more surveys will take place. The decision will then be taken in June as to whether we change the structure or not.