'Clubs on the outside would not suffer'

DEREK Bowden, the Ipswich Town chief executive, says that teams who miss out on a proposed 'closed shop' two-tier Premier League would not suffer because of it.

Elvin King

DEREK Bowden, the Ipswich Town chief executive, says that teams who miss out on a proposed 'closed shop' two-tier Premier League would not suffer because of it.

He said: “From the Championship down, only Leeds and Leicester City, with respect, would warrant serious consideration for a place in any new set-up.

“And both their demises are symptoms of the whole problem.

“Leeds effectively went down to League One after going into administration as a backlash from coming out of the Premier League.

“And, although Leicester went back up again briefly after administration, they are where they are based on the financial predicament they found themselves in after not being able to hold on to a top-flight place.

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“Neither Leeds nor Leicester going down to League One were football relegations.

“They have dropped because of the present economies of the English game.”

Although Bowden gives his wholehearted support for an expansion of the Premier League, he fears that there might be too many obstacles.

“With a one club, one vote system, two thirds of the Football League - clubs in Leagues One and Two - would vote against it,” added Bowden, who runs the day-to-day affairs at Portman Road these days.

“It might mean the Championship breaking away from the Football League, but this would present constitutional problems and may be illegal.

“There would have to be a legal debate, with the Football Association clearly needing to be involved. It will not be straightforward.”

With the current credit crunch concerns, Bowden sees plusses in an expanded Premier League for clubs 'left behind'.

Bowden explained: “The FA Cup, and possibly the League Cup, would continue to give smaller clubs a chance to play the top sides.

“Attendances are dropping and, with predictions that the economic situation is not going to improve and with the number of other leisure opportunities, it will be difficult for League One and Two clubs to continue to trade without a cup run or with the help of a benefactor.

“Communities will continue to support their local clubs and I don't suspect the situation would be any harder for lower league clubs than it is now.

“If you support Port Vale, for example, you would still go and see them play Darlington.”