Bowden backs two-division Premier League

IPSWICH Town chief executive Derek Bowden today gave his backing to the Premier League being enlarged and divided into two divisions - with no relegation.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town chief executive Derek Bowden today gave his backing to the Premier League being enlarged and divided into two divisions - with no relegation.

And he said that if it did happen he would expect the Blues to be part of it.

“Our fans know that we have set our stall out to be promoted to the Premier League,” said Bowden, “and to stay there when we do.

“Our supporters can also be re-assured that if a Premier League Two comes in then we would absolutely expect to be part of it.”

Town chairman David Sheepshanks mooted the idea of starting a second Premier League division six years ago, and Bolton chairman Phil Gartside last month put forward a proposal for a two-tier Premier League, and suggested the abolition of relegation to the Football League.

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Gartside, who is also an influential member of the Football Association board, also wants to see an end to the influx of foreign owners in English football and feels it is time for players' wages to be capped.

His controversial proposals have opened up a fierce debate around the country with Gartside adamant that changes are necessary because of a lack of competition in the top-flight.

“I concur with Phil Gartside's proposal whether it is two 18-strong divisions or a split of what is now the Premier League and Coca-Cola Championship,” said Bowden.

“It would lead to more equal distribution of wealth, and remove the horrendous damage done to a club - even with parachute payments - when it is relegated back to the Football League.

“The gap is too wide with not only the club but fans and players also suffering.

“As things stand there is a temptation to plan for coming down on promotion, and the chances are this will lead to relegation.

“It is refreshing that this latest proposal has come from a club like Bolton that has done well and established themselves in the top flight.”

And Bowden says that it makes sense to make an expanded Premier League a closed shop.

He explained: “The time has come to do away with that fear and devastation that relegation from the Premier League brings.

“It is not nice being relegated from the Championship, but nowhere as painful as being relegated from the Premier League.

“There is nothing more exciting than being promoted to the Premier League, but nothing more painful than coming down.

“The pain would be reduced with relegation from one Premier League tier to another with the fairer distribution of wealth being good for the game.

“I would expect Premier League One to earn more than Premier League Two, but the balance between the two would be manageable.

“With there being no sign of TV money drying up, the financial gulf between Premier League Two and Football League would be very difficult to manage.

“It would be harsh on clubs that just miss out on joining the elite - like trying to get into the last lifeboat on the Titanic.”