Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last night gave a withering response to the revelation that several of the biggest Premier League clubs want to scrap relegation and promotion in the top flight, describing it as "suicide".
The League Managers Association chief executive, Richard Bevan, said yesterday that the American and Asian owners of Premier League sides would be keen on a franchising model that would fly in the face of English footballing tradition and he fears that if more teams change ownership there could be a vote to abolish relegation, a move that would require the backing of two thirds of Premier League clubs as well as FA approval.
Ferguson said such a move was potentially disastrous. "If you look at the Championship at the moment, we have at least eight teams with tradition and history. What do you say to those eight teams? That they can never play in the premier division? I think that would be absolute suicide for the rest of the league and particularly the teams in the Championship. You might as well lock the doors. The only place you can make money and realise your ambitions is in the Premier League and you can't take that away from clubs like Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. All these great teams, who formed the nucleus of our old First Division all those years ago."
Even if a two-thirds majority of Premier League clubs voted in favour of abolishing relegation, the move would still be unlikely to come about as the league's own rules dictate it would also require approval of the FA, which would expect to hear widespread opposition from the rest of the game.
McFadden seals Goodison return
Scottish striker James McFadden is set to complete a free transfer return after undergoing a medical yesterday. The 28-year-old played 109 games for Everton between 2003 and 2008 before moving to Birmingham for £5m. Toffees teenager Ross Barkley is set to sign a new long-term deal at Goodison Park.