Harry Redknapp Blasts the Movement to End Promotion and Relegation

Sean BabcockCorrespondent IIOctober 19, 2011

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp looks on during the Carling Cup Third Round match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium on September 20, 2011 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The potential end of England's promotion and relegation system in the Football League seems to be the hot-button topic of the week, as a growing population of foreign owners within the top tier seek the creation of a "permanent 20" and a system that more resembles the ones seen in American sports.

The outcry over the suggestion has been a loud and resounding "no" from Premier League fans around the world. But the concern is that the supporters' voice could be meaningless in the shadow of promises surrounding high profits and low risks when failure to compete is met with little to no consequence.

One critic of the movement is Tottenham Hotspur boss, Harry Redknapp, who spoke about the issue this week in the press conference following Sunday's fixture against Newcastle United, and explained why England can't scrap tradition in favor of profits and positional security.

"How could you not have promotion and relegation?" Redknapp asked, calling the suggestion a "scandal."

The idea would only hurt the English game in the long run, he insisted, claiming that proponents would likely be lower-table clubs afraid of relegation and attempting to take advantage of their timely existence in the top tier.

"Let's not kid ourselves. If you're in the league and you're a team who's up and down, hanging on every year, you're going to vote for no promotion and relegation. Because it suits you. Teams really look after themselves. The people are always going to look after themselves, and the smaller clubs who are in the Premier League at the time when it comes in will be voting against relegation because it suits them."

Another important reason to keep the current system, according to Redknapp, is the excitement and purpose it provides for clubs and fans, giving every team a goal to achieve and something to fight for.

"What is the league going to be about? When the playoffs first came into the Championship and the first and second divisions, it's been a fantastic thing. It keeps the league going. Years ago, you know, teams—with ten games to go—the season was over. No one was bothered. If you weren't going to win the league, or get a promotion or weren't going to be relegated, you'd just (trails off). But now everybody's fighting for something. You can't take away promotion and relegation. That's what the game's built on. Competition. Teams fighting to stay up."

Redknapp is just one of many insiders who believe that the movement to end promotion and relegation is bad for the game. Among English supporters, managers and owners, that opinion seems to be the consensus.

While the change of rules may be fairly unlikely at this stage of the conversation, it's notable that only 14 of 20 top-tier organizations would have to vote in favor of the change. Such truths have led to further debates regarding the influence of foreign owners on the league.

With nine of the current 20 clubs already under foreign ownership, some worry that just a few more outsiders would be all that is necessary to change the traditional format forever.