A revamp of the lower-league pyramid system is well underway but the National League with North and South feeder divisions appears to be set in stone. So Talking Bull asks why not go one step further, and introduce a National League Central, as Steve Hughes outlines.
With all the talk centred around finances in the lower leagues it would be interesting to look at how a regionalisation of the Motorama Leagues might work.
My proposal would be to retain the National League in its present format of 22 teams, irrespective of geographical location, but that the next tier be of three divisions; North, South and Central – rather than just the two we have at present. This would cut down travelling and still be competitive.
Relegation from the National League could then be reduced to three teams, and the winners of the North, South and Central be promoted via a modified play-off system I have suggested below.
Given that there are teams on a boundary line between the three leagues it should be easy enough to allocate the relegated teams from National League to one or other of the three divisions with an odd switch or so.
On likely outcomes of this season it would look something like:
22 TEAMS IN THE SOUTH
HAVANT AND WATERLOOVILLE, ALDERSHOT, BRAINTREE, MAIDENHEAD UTD, WELLING, CHELMSFORD, BATH C, BILLERICAY, ST. ALBANS, DARTFORD, CONCORD RANGERS, WEALDSTONE, SLOUGH, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, DULWICH, HAMPTON AND RICHMOND, EASTBOURNE, TRURO, HUNGERFORD, CHIPPENHAM, WEYMOUTH, TAUNTON. [ASSUMED TORQUAY AND WOKING ARE PROMOTED]
22 TEAMS IN THE NORTH
SPENNYMOOR, ALTRINCHAM, BRADFORD, BLYTH SPARTANS, CHESTER, YORK, SOUTHPORT, DARLINGTON, CURZON A, GUISELEY, FC MANCHESTER, ASHTON UTD, FARSLEY, SOUTH SHIELDS, WARRINGTON, NANTWICH, GAINSBOROUGH, BUXTON, HYDE UTD, WITTON, WHITBY, SCARBOROUGH A. [ASSUMED STOCKPORT AND CHORLEY WERE PROMOTED]
22 TEAMS IN THE CENTRAL
BRACKLEY, HEREFORD, BOSTON, KIDDERMINSTER, TELFORD, ALFRETON, LEAMINGTON, GLOUCESTER, OXFORD, KETTERING, NUNEATON, TAMWORTH, STOURBRIDGE, HEDNESFORD, BASFORD, KINGS LYNN, STAFFORD, MATLOCK, GRANTHAM, RUSHDEN AND DIAMONDS, ALVECHURCH, STRATFORD
The leagues would be reasonably comparable in standard; less travelling; more accessible for supporters – hence better gates; and possibly enable teams to develop younger players from their local area.
To ensure we retain a play-off system, why not make the top two teams play off in each of the three leagues with the team finishing top during the season having the home advantage of a one leg play off? Maybe even give the home side a one goal advantage!
The balance in these three divisions is probably no more diverse than the current North/South divisions.
I believe there is always room for discussion in regionalisation of leagues because the financial aspects are affecting the way clubs remain competitive in the lower reaches of the football pyramid.
Steve Hughes – Halesowen Bull