English football shake-up plans abandoned
LONDON (Reuters) - Plans for the biggest shake-up in English football since the introduction of the Premier League have been abandoned after talks between the main participants broke down.
The Football League (EFL) proposed a raft of changes called the Whole Game Solution, including a five-division league - one more than present - with 20 teams in each, and a winter break.
But discussions with the Football Association (FA), the English game's governing body, foundered on a proposal to move FA Cup games to midweek from their traditional weekend slots, the EFL said in a statement on Wednesday.
"If the weekend slots are not available (for league games), then there is simply no way we can meet the financial conditions as outlined at the very outset," said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey.
Earlier this month, the FA announced a new six-year international broadcasting deal for the FA Cup, with British media reports putting its value at about 820 million pounds ($1.02 billion).
This made the competition too lucrative to tinker with, from the FA's point of view, and it refused to agree a new calendar for the changes which would have been introduced for the 2019-20 season.
"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," added Harvey.
The EFL believes change is necessary to ease fixture congestion, make weekend games more special and help supporters by cutting down midweek travel.
Under the plans, unveiled in May, each club outside the Premier League would have seen their home fixtures reduced from 46 to 38, a contentious proposal that some clubs opposed.
Reacting to the news that the changes would not now go ahead, Julian Tagg, chairman of League Two (fourth-tier) side Exeter City, told the BBC: "Many fans across the country didn't like the idea of change and I think that was the same with our club. I think there'll be a little bit of a sigh of relief."
The FA was not immediately available to comment.
($1 = 0.8033 pounds)
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)