Beginning OF THE NEXT Revolution; PREMIER LEAGUE 2 ON THE CARDS

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL SMITH

PLANS for a Premier League second division that would revolutionise English football have been drawn up.

Bolton's Phil Gartside, one of the longest-serving chairmen in the top flight and an influential member of the Football Association's board, has put together a blueprint that is being circulated among key figures within the game.

They include the current Premier League chairman Dave Richards, who sees merit in the proposals.

Sunday Mirror Sport has been given a full briefing on the document, which is being backed by at least seven Premier League clubs as well as key Football League clubs who are keen to be part of the new breakaway.

A prominent Championship chairman, whose club have been in the Premier League, said: "Given the severe financial restraints in the Football League it would be madness not to consider the proposals.

"The considerable wealth of Premier League clubs shows no sign of subsiding.

"The Football League clubs are poor by comparison." Gartside's blueprint proposes two Premier League divisions, each of 18 teams.

There would be promotion and relegation of two clubs between the divisions.

There would also be one club relegated from Premier League 2 to be replaced by a club from the Football League.

Perhaps most controversial of all is the idea of inviting two Scottish clubs to join Premier League 2. The clubs are not named but would be Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic.

In the past, both Scottish clubs have expressed a wish to join the English Premier League bandwagon. With the top flight reduced from 20 clubs, there's also a proposal for a winter break.

And in a move that will alarm the FA and Football League - who have their own knock-out competitions - there would be the introduction of a new Premier League knock-out cup.

Gartside would like the 36 clubs to review wage control policies. This is an area that concerns smaller clubs such as Bolton, but is much less of an issue to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Gartside has been working on the project, and sounding out key associates, for almost four months. He has attempted to fine-tune his proposal before it is formally discussed at a Premier League shareholders meeting by the 20 current clubs. However, Gartside and his supporters will have to overcome a number of key issues to see the revolutionary plan come to fruition.

Fourteen Premier League clubs will have to vote in favour of the proposal to get the project up and running. The FA, who backed the formation of the original Premier League, would then have to support it.

More importantly, the Football League, who could demand massive compensation, would have to relinquish their rights to oppose the project.

The top four Premier League clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are likely to vote against such the change. That's why the Gartside blueprint states that there will be no change to the current distribution of funds. …