National League chief executive Mark Ives has said introducing the ‘three up, three down’ promotion into the English Football League is the ‘fairest’ way forward.
Notts County were three minutes away from failing to secure promotion to League Two despite scoring 107 points and 117 goals this season.
Notts finally rode after beat Chesterfield in a penalty shootout at the end of their promotion final.
“How can we not have three?” Ives told BBC Sport.
“It’s simply the fairest thing to do. At the moment there are only two, but there are four going from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1.”
It took a late equalizer, another fight back in extra time and a penalty shootout triumph in front of 38,138 at Wembley to secure Notts’ return to the EFL after a four-year absence.
However, Ives believes the play-off final underscored the flaw in the promotion system which can only be fixed by the EFL – whose chief executive Trevor Birch was at the thrilling game on Saturday – agreeing to increase the number of places from promotion.
“I think it will happen,” Ives said of a potential change in the number of promotions.
“There is an appetite for it throughout the game, including within the EFL.
“We want that to happen. Everyone would think it’s fair that the two teams with more than 100 points went up. We risked that not happening. The problem for me is when and how does that work .”
After the game Chesterfield’s Paul Cook said it was ‘crazy’ that Notts had not already increased and also called for more promotion slots to be made available.
“It’s a good, very competitive league, with a lot of good managers, coaches and teams,” he said.
“The fact that only one team was allowed to move up automatically is just insane. It’s an absolute sporting disgrace.”
In the last six seasons, only Macclesfield, which suffered major financial problems and eventually went bankrupt, and Hartlepool this season, have been relegated to the National League among the 12 promoted clubs.
However, Ives believes that instead of a three up, three down system resembling turkeys voting for Christmas, an expanded promotion and relegation system would provide more opportunities for those dropping out of the EFL.
“If clubs come out of the EFL it is difficult to come back because of the level of National League football,” he said.
“Having three opportunities instead of two must be an advantage.”
“Solid” financial rules
The irresistible, Wrexham starry story, plus their promotion battle with Notts County, means there has been more attention on the National League than ever before.
Maintaining the same level of interest will be next to impossible.
Additionally, problems at other clubs such as Southend and Yeovil, the latter relegated to National League South nine years after being a Championship club, highlighted the perilous financial situation some found themselves in.
“If you look back over the past 13 or 14 years, the clubs that have found themselves in financial difficulty are not traditional National League clubs,” Ives said.
“We have our own Financial Regulation (FRI) which monitors clubs. In terms of trying to identify problems as they arise rather than when it’s too late and clubs have put themselves in difficulty, I think they are strong and robust. .
“You don’t always see the checks, and neither should you necessarily. Sometimes we end up having clubs under player embargoes and other safeguards that you’re not aware of.
“It’s not about playing the issues in the public eye, it’s about protecting the sustainability of clubs and the future of clubs that have been around for years. I absolutely support that.”
Protect 15 hours power outage
Following prompting from Wrexham and others, the National League has now adopted a streaming service which has raised the thorny question of whether the traditional 3 p.m. television blackout should be scrapped.
Saturday’s play-off final was shown on BT Sport despite kicking off at 3.30pm BST. As with Manchester City’s Premier League win over Leeds the previous week, this was only possible because the EFL had no fixtures at the time and nearly all non-league campaigns were completed. .
Ives admits there is a delicate balance to be struck, although he says no substantive discussion has taken place among National League clubs on a way forward.
“We haven’t discussed it in detail, but my personal opinion is that we have to protect the clubs and those who show up to watch the games,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t link it too much to streaming. Streaming is supposed to give people the opportunity to watch who wouldn’t normally go out into the field because they live too far away or for other reasons they don’t can’t go to match.
“You can never replace going to a game. Yes, you can see the goals come in and the times they were scored, but to feel the atmosphere you have to be in the ground.
“I don’t think streaming will replace people going to the floor and the stats don’t show that’s the case either.”