English Football: Why Throwing Away the Relegation System Would Be a Mistake

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English Football: Why Throwing Away the Relegation System Would Be a Mistake
Julian Finney/Getty Images

On Monday, Richard Bevan of the League Managers Association aired his concerns that the owners of current Barclays Premier League sides could vote to remove the promotion/relegation system currently utilized in most of the football world.

Bevan notes that the increase in foreign investment, specifically American ownership, could push to abolish the system in order to protect their financial investments.  If the issue came to a vote, 14 of the 20 team owners would have to vote in favor.

Despite the financial protection for the owners, removing the relegation system would be detrimental to English football for several reasons.

Decreased Competition at the Bottom of the Table

Does nobody else remember the excitement of last year's relegation battle?  Within a matter of minutes fans were sent on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from anxiety, elation and despair.  It is these moments that make every game of the Premier League exciting and important.

Without the relegation system, a team outside of the top half of the table has little incentive to continue to play exciting, competitive football.  The bottom teams will simply degenerate into prospect developing teams—or Kansas City Royals-esque perennial bottom feeders. 

Failure to Increase Competition at Top

The argument that abolishing the relegation system will increase the competition at the top of the table, and consequently break the "top six", is simply false.  

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The success of Big Four, or now the top six, can simply be contributed to consistency and financial power.  More so with the Big Four, the historic success of the clubs can be tied to the consistency of success put forth by managers such as Sir Matt Busby, Bob Paisley, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and many others.

For the modern game, the huge influx of money at Manchester City or Chelsea can be attributed to some of their recent success.  Without one of these two factors, could you see a side like Wigan breaking into Europe?

Smothering of Championship and Lower-League Sides

Thinking outside of the EPL, what would removing the relegation/promotion system mean to the other teams?

First off, it would discard the legacy and ambitions of some of the more historic clubs.  For example, look at clubs like Southampton or Leeds.  They have a strong history in the Premier League, as well as clear ambition to return to their glory days.

Teams that founded the Premier League like Ipswich Town or Middlesbrough could be denied the chance to once again prove themselves. If you close the door of promotion, you are denying those clubs the ability to expand upon that history.  

Secondly, what would the lower-division clubs now have to play for?  Without the prospect of promotion, the clubs will become stepping-stones for players, like the minor leagues are to baseball.  

The actual football quality will drop, as will those team's followings.  Eventually, there will only a few clubs left to serve as feeder systems for the youth products of big clubs.

What do you think?  Should English Football keep the promotion/relegation system, or should they abolish it? Leave your opinion below.

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