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Torquay boss backs controversial proposal to change EFL and National League

Torquay United boss Gary Johnson backs controversial proposal to change the EFL and National League, something of along running debate.

In an interview with Non-League Daily, Johnson claims the two up, two down promotion/relegation with League Two is too restrictive and prevents teams in the fifth tier and below from progressing.

The National League has just one automatic promotion spot with the second filled by the play-off winners. As a result a number of the “bigger teams” who fall down from League Two, struggle to return due to the huge financial drop-off and the overall logistical struggles of managing a team at that level.

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Wrexham have been in the National League for 13 years, while previously well-established Football League clubs such as Notts County, Stockport County and Chesterfield remain stuck there, and the likes of Darlington and York City have fallen even further.

During Johnson’s stay, Torquay – who were last in the Football League in 2013/14 – have finished 14th and second in the National League, losing last season’s play-off final at Ashton Gate to Hartlepool United on penalties.

“I feel that the National League should now be part of the Football League, 100%. In my opinion it is a third division. Everyone wants to play the ex-League teams, including us, even though they don’t like travelling down here,” Johnson told Non-League Daily.

“Players would rather play in the Football League at a lower end team, than at a better National League team. If we became League Three, I’d also get my opportunity to get to 1,000 games managed in the Football League – I hope to do that before I die!

“I think three up, three down is a great idea. If you’re going to be part of a FL system, it has to be as it is elsewhere in terms of promotion. They have to embrace that because there’s some big teams in this league.

“It’s such a difficult league to get out because of the strength of it. It’s not just a handful of the teams who can compete – it’s a majority. If our league wasn’t full time, then I wouldn’t support it.”

Any moves to change the system will have to be voted on by League Two members with any motion unlikely to be passed given the increased risk for relegation.

Fans gave their reaction as the Torquay boss backs a controversial proposal to change the EFL and National League…

@DavidEl21800433: Is this because they are 16th and struggling to get promoted.

@gavinlewis77: I agree and I don’t support a team in non-league

@johngunn2: Why?? What happens to the league that takes its place as the main non league feeder. Does that become eventually League four? Agree with the point of an extra promotion place though.

@darren010967: League 2 & national League should merge and become regional,north & south less expense for clubs and fans 2 up & 2 down from both

@rh0de5: Totally agree but will never happen.

@DanielLaw99: Nice to see him crying over bottling promotion still

@sparkyanderson7: Label changes nothing nor has any meaning. England is the only country in the world whose fifth division is completely professional and I love that

@payneardo: Definitely it needs to 3 up 3 down. Why not top 2 promoted, bottom 2 relegated, 3rd from bottom in play offs with top 3,4,5 👍

@hatternick: agreed. 3 up 3 down makes it more interesting. Adn makes it a bit more consistent. Becoming l3 may not work though..tv rights etc would screw the 5th tier even more

@Jaimundo_ESX: Not sure I agree while there are still part-time clubs in the division. Three up and three down would be the best short-term solution to the issues at the moment. Perhaps even 4 up and 4 down given the strength of the National League.

@AndyP01968: Already lost some great clubs from EFL Darlington Wrexham Stockport York Halifax Notts county to name a few and replaced by Salford Stevenage Dagenham Morecambe Crawley diluting it.

@jonlear4578: The way to resolve this is 3 go up to the FL and 3 get relegated.

@blathers67: No from me. Should be 3 up 3 down across all leagues and divisions

@jeffpovey: I don’t disagree with Gary’s Johnson’s view, but what would happen to National League North and it’s Southern counterpart ? Would they become EFL 4 – North and EFL4 – South ?

@Paskins_tache: When you look at the clubs down there, he’s probably got a point.

@FerryLad: I agree with this 100%. Some great clubs in the NL and the gap isn’t massive anyway. Should be the same as promotion from L2. Top 3 and 1 through the play offs.

@RWGbluenose: I believe that the division 2 and national league should be regional like old north and south to reduce costs , and have more derbies and less travel for fans

@Angleseyred: Merge League 2 and National League into North and South. 2 go up automatically from N and S. 5 get relegated from League 1. The sides 3rd to 6th in N and S are involved in playoffs. Winners of N/S playoffs meet to decide 5th club to go up to League 1.

@astarcars: Agree. But Lge 2 and National Lge become rationalised to Lge 2 N and S. Nat N and S to become 3 North and South. Automatic promotion and relegation AND 3g pitches allowed at least to Lge 1 (but as they are used for internationals and euro comps , should be for all).

@Ryannn_NCFC: Should be 3 up and 3 down

@BarryWxm: People saying no but wanting to have the same promotion/relegation numbers would effectively make it a fifth division. The benefit would be FFP rules and no artificial pitches.

@Gav_BFC: Should be top two promoted (NL), bottom two relegated (L2). 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th (NL) to play QF and SF. Winner of the SF play 3rd bottom (L2) in the Final.

@gtfcmatt: Size of the majority of teams down there, this should be happening. The fact its still 2 up 2 down is daft ? #gtfc

@kylepont: Honestly I’m on board with this. Change promotion/relegation to 3 or maybe even 4 and crack on

@tjrin21: Think it should be based on whether there are enough professional clubs in the conference, and whether those in the national league that aren’t, can go full time. No point having a semi professional football league if the majority are professional.

@ZaaanderSmith: Most definitely not but the standard in the National League is very high now one thing they should do is make 3 go down from League 2 and 3 come up from the National League. 1 automatic promotion place makes it so hard for the rest literally champions or bust.

@DanSWA96: 100% agree with this

@danielhufc: Is he that salty that he bottled getting into the EFL last season

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