British League – An OutlineTue, 28 April 2009
Of course, it would make more sense as part of a broader re-organization of European club football to form a European League at the top of a greater pyramid, but there is only so much sense (if any) that the football establishment can take at any one time.
The outline of the British League - two divisions, let’s say, Division A and Division B. In the first season, they would be made up as follows:
- Division A, 16 clubs – Top 12 from the English Premier League, the top two from the Scottish Premier League. The next four from the EPL, the next two from the SPL and the top club from Wales and Northern Ireland (total 8 ) would play off to decide the last 2 places.
- Division B, 20 clubs – The remaining 6 of the 8 clubs that played-off as above, the last two from the English Premier League, the top 8 of the Championship, and the next two from the SPL. The next four from the Championship, the next two from the SPL and the second clubs from Wales and Northern Ireland (total 8 ) would play off to decide the last two places.
The English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland leagues (national leagues) would re-organise as follows:
- English league – 4 divisions of 20 clubs.
- Scottish league – 2 divisions of 20 clubs.
- Welsh league – 1 division of 20 clubs.
- Northern Ireland league – 1 division of 20 clubs.
The clubs would play each other home and away as is currently the case. However, there will be an additional Divisional Cup. Each division would be divided into 4 groups of 4 teams (for the British League Division A) or 5 groups of 4 teams (for the other divisions), playing each other home and away within each group. Therefore, the total number of league matches played by clubs in each division would be:
- British League Division A – 36 matches.
- British League Division B, English League, Scottish League, Welsh League and Northern Ireland League – 44 matches.
The top 2 teams from each of the four groups in the BL Division A Divisional Cup would qualify for the quarterfinals. They’d play home and away in a knock out competition up to a final.
The top teams and the three best second placed teams from each of the five groups for all other divisions would qualify for the quarterfinals of their respective Divisional Cups. In each Divisional Cup, the clubs would play each other home and away in a knock out competition up to a final.
The top clubs in the British League Division A would qualify for Europe in accordance with the prevailing rules. One place would be reserved for the Divisional Cup winners.
At the end of the season, subject to the following, the bottom three clubs of each division will be relegated, while the top 2 clubs and the Divisional Cup winners of the division below will be promoted. The Divisional Cup effectively replaces the play-offs. If the Divisional Cup winners are one of the top 2 clubs, the third placed club gets promoted as well.
Between the British League and the national leagues:
- The bottom 5 clubs of the BL Division B will be relegated to the national leagues.
- The top club in each of the four national leagues will be promoted to the British League Division B. The Divisional Cup winners from the top division in each of the four national leagues would play off for the last promotion place.
Promotion and relegation between the bottom division of each national league and lower leagues would be in accordance with prevailing practices.
Every home nation would benefit from an integrated system as described above. However, I expect the Football Associations of each to be too short-sighted and parochial to be able to see that.
The domestic cup competitions, such as the FA Cup, League Cup and Football League Trophy, can continue as they currently exist.