Football: Premier dispute

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The Independent Online
THE expansion of the Premier League to include a Second Division may edge closer to reality at a meeting of the chairmen of the 22 Premier League clubs in London next week, writes Rupert Metcalf.

'We have been asked by clubs to include on the agenda for next week the possibility of a Second Division,' Mike Foster, the Premier League secretary, said yesterday. 'The Football Association will be present and it will be interesting to see their reaction. In the past they have said they would not sanction it, but this is the first time the idea has been discussed formally.

'It is not intended for clubs to have a vote, but there might be a show of hands to see how people feel.'

The Football League is certain to react to this development with hostility. 'When the Premier League was formed the FA said they would not sanction a Second Division,' Gordon McKeag, the Football League president, said. 'That assurance has been reiterated by both the chairman (Sir Bert Millichip) and the chief executive (Graham Kelly).'

However, Mike Wilmore, for the FA, said yesterday: 'We have said that in principle we would not be in favour, but it would be a brave man who said that would always be the position.'

It is unlikely that all the Premier League clubs will be in favour of adding another division - which would involve redrawing voting rights and redistributing television income among the extra clubs.