Soccer plots 35m rejig

League studies shake-up of lower divisions to free 35m in sponsorship cash for first division

The Football League is considering turning the second and third divisions into regional leagues to boost the national profile of the first division.

This would mean that virtually all the League’s sponsorships and television rights – worth about 35m – would be concentrated in division one.

The bulk of this – 25m – comes from Sky’s five-year deal which ends in 2001. The remainder comes from a range of sponsors including Coca-Cola, Nationwide, and the pools companies.

The move is understood to be one of the options put forward by management consultants Deloitte & Touche, which has been brought in by the League to study how to maximise profits for the lower divisions.

The League’s written brief asks Deloitte & Touche to look at its structure and the powers of its governing boards, plus changes to its cup competitions.

The consultancy, which began its review at the end of January, will submit its findings to the Football League governing board at the end of April.

Chris Griffin, financial controller of the Football League, says he is aware of the proposal to create regional leagues. He adds that the majority of the 72 League clubs could revolt against such a radical scheme.

Griffin adds that if this proposal – or one similar to it – is adopted, clubs in the new “regional” divisions will still benefit from it because increased money from TV and other commercial activity will be passed down to all three leagues.

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