“The EFL have got to have a little look at how they organise the fixtures. They have to take into consideration the football supporters”
The above was the verdict of Gary Bowyer after Blackpool’s 640 mile round trip to Plymouth on Tuesday 12 September. Bowyer also went on to cite Morecambe’s trip to Yeovil and Wigan’s journey to Charlton. The Sheffield Star also made special mention of “The Colchester 117”, a group of Chesterfield fans who made the trek to Colchester on Tuesday night, despite the Spireites having conceded 11 goals on their previous three league away matches.
The above led to the question being raised on social media, should Leagues One and Two be split North and South and feed into the Championship. In an era where financial austerity is at the forefront of everybody’s mind, would it not be more sensible for the less well-off clubs in the professional game to be able to reduce their travelling costs?
We have already seen football league clubs running with reduced playing squads compared to seasons gone by and there have been tales of overnight stays being cut or players having to contribute to them.
Regional divisions were adopted in 1940 to limit the amount of movement required by teams during World War II, but they only had one full season in 1945-46 before the standard league set-up was adopted.
As well as the financial impact on the football clubs, regional divisions would have a positive impact on travelling supporters. More local games would probably allow for fans to travel more often due to reduced travelling costs. This, in turn, would increase club revenue’s through gate receipts.
For instance, Carlisle’s most local League Two club is Morecambe, a 68-mile journey down the M6. After that, it is Crewe at 143 miles and Port Vale at 153 miles. However, in League One there is Fleetwood and Blackpool within 92 and 98 miles respectively whilst the group of Blackburn, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Wigan are within between 94 and 120 miles.
This is obviously not set in stone and would take some serious organisation but it is surely something that needs to be considered to keep up with the changing financial environment not just within the football league but also everyday life.