THE BLOG

A Smaller Premier League Is the Simplest Solution

08/03/2016 17:52 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 10:12 GMT

A lot of the talk in recent weeks has been very worrying and somewhat insulting to the average English football fan.

The news of a secret meeting involving the five chief executives of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and the Manchester clubs, plus some American bloke whose name I can't be bothered to remember, was completely innocent, about pre-season tours and certainly not about breakaway Super Leagues. Yeah right.

How ironic it would be if the Premier League, the ultimate money-driven breakaway league in British sport, would be a victim of its own breakaway.

Or that the Champions League, which has long faced criticism of being overblown and exclusive, is made redundant by an exclusive clubs with overblown egos.

What is curious is that the English inclination - where there is any - towards any reform is that there are too many games on the fixture list.

For this reason, they want a smaller, more lucrative Champions League, they want FA Cup games moved to midweek and replays to be scrapped, and they want to slim the League Cup down further.

What surprises me is that they have not considered what would be the simplest and arguably best solution - reducing the number of teams that play in the Premier League.

It makes sense to reduce the Prem down to 18, or even 16 teams. It would mean the TV and prize money can be shared between fewer candidates and therefore mean more dosh in the pockets - if that doesn't swing the chief executives I don't know what will.

It will give the league more exclusivity - which seems so desired - and mean less games are played, which will prevent players from being too fatigued by the summer, give fans a better footballing spectacle all year round as the footballers can give it 100 per cent, and may even allow for the fabled but oft derided as impossible Winter Break to be born.

The most compelling argument for a smaller Premier League, however, is that there is precedent for the number of teams being reduced.

So all-consuming is the modern attitude towards money, and football as a real-life video game, that even the early 90s Premier League days look and feel like ancient history, and in those days it was effectively just a slightly shinier continuation of the old First Division.

There were 22 clubs in the top tier until 1995, when to compensate four were relegated from the Premier League and only two promoted from the First Division, as it was then known.

Transpose this onto this campaign, and it would read very bad news for the current bottom four, who appear to be drifting away - Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich and Villa would definitely all go down.

It would also create an even tighter fight at the top of the Championship - Middlesbrough, Burnley, Hull and Brighton would all have only one automatic promotion spot to do everything in their power to not win (so it seems).

For me, it makes the most sense. I don't expect many to share that view.