It’s been an introspective week for the English Football League and for English football as a whole.
On Tuesday, League One club Bury were expelled from the English Football League after 6 months of poor ownership. Bury was unable to prove to the English Football League that the team could afford to fulfill all of it’s fixtures. The club was in administration, and failed to find a financial backer in time.
On Thursday, Bolton Wanderers were saved from the same fate by a last minute purchase by Football Ventures consortium.
The last team to be expelled from the EFL was Maidstone United in 1992. Unfortunately, the situations at Bury and Bolton could be portentous for the rest of English football.
The hallowed 92 league clubs of England are part of the very fabric of the country. Yes, the Premier League is showbiz – it’s exciting and makes a lot of money – but it’s not all there is.
The English football pyramid as a whole is what drives England’s national game. The 92 teams form, strengthen and define communities all over the country.
Thanks to the excessive amounts of money in football, that pyramid is in danger of being toppled by those at the top of it.
The four tiers of English football have always been linked by promotion and relegation, yet the Premier League has created an insurmountable disparity between itself and the rest. This disparity is now extending towards the Championship, pushing League’s One and Two even further away.
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This is in part due to parachute payments, which relegated Premier League clubs receive when they drop into the Championship.
As a result, there are seven or eight teams during any given Championship season with budgets of £100 million. Over time, this will effectively turn the Championship into the ‘Premier League 2.’
For the likes of Bury and Bolton, the ever-widening gap means that survival is now the imperative, and not promotion. Don’t be surprised to see more and more EFL clubs face similar struggles over the coming years.