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Proposed EFL restructure abandoned

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The English Football League today announced that proposals for significant changes to the English League structure and football calendar have been abandoned.

A raft of proposals known as the “Whole Game Solution”, which included moving FA Cup rounds to midweek, altering the size of the leagues and a winter break have been dropped.

The EFL claims this is due to the reluctance of the FA to consider moving FA Cup rounds from weekend slots.

In statement released earlier this morning the league body claims the FA blocked the proposals, with the FA insisting it would not benefit sufficiently from moving the fourth and fifth rounds to midweek slots to make more weekends available for league football.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: ““As a result of the FA’s decision, the Board has been left with no option but to end the Whole Game Solution discussions as, in its current form, it is no longer viable.

“The stance the FA has adopted has brought the discussions to a premature end, before fully understanding what the financial outcome from the creation of a new distribution model could be.”

FSF Whole Game Solution Survey

Prior to today’s announcement, the FSF surveyed more than 3,000 of its members to find out what football supporters made of the Whole Game Solution proposals.

The data gathered showed how deeply unpopular many of the proposals were and was vitally important when consulting with EFL officials in recent meetings.

Our survey shows that a large majority of supporters (56%) rejected outright the need for a restructure of the three EFL divisions. 

Moving FA Cup rounds from weekend to midweek slots was one of the most unpopular proposals within the Whole Game Solution – 64% of supporters opposed this idea. Additionally, the vast majority of fans wanted to see FA Cup replays stay in place up to the quarter-finals.

Match-going fans were also opposed to the controversial proposal for a winter break – 36% were “absolutely opposed” and a further 23% were “broadly” opposed to the idea.

Fixture congestion and the number of games does not appear to be an issue for those surveyed, 63% were happy with the number of midweek fixtures and 72% do not believe there are currently too many fixtures over the course of a season.

Another proposal within the Whole Game Solution, the prospect of regionalising the bottom two divisions, was opposed by the clear majority (60%).

Chief executive of the FSF Kevin Miles said: “We’re pleased that the EFL committed early on to consult with supporters on these proposals and the issues they raise.

“Our research which we fed back to the EFL demonstrates clearly that football fans do not support moving the fourth and fifth rounds of the FA Cup to midweek slots.

“The results show that supporters are happy with the FA Cup’s current format, the winter schedule and current number of fixtures over the course of a season. 

“If proposals for significant changes to our competitions and footballing calendar resurface, we trust that supporters we be included in those discussions once more.”

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