Regular readers of the site will know I am no fan of Dale Vince, the cash-laded owner of Forest Green. I’m not entirely comfortable with the extreme financial help the Villagers receive, nor the often bullish and arrogant managers he manages to attract.
However, today Vince has spoken out about the lack of proper promotion and relegation between the National League and League Two, and I’m forced to agree with him.
“There is a good reason for there being four up and four down between Leagues Two and One. That should extend to the National League,” Vince told BBC Sport.
“The FA have this curious way of defining everything below League Two as ‘non-league’ football. A proper opportunity for an exchange of clubs between the National League and League Two would be better for the game and give clubs more chance to progress, those that are moving in the right direction.”
Vince is right, the top tier of the so-called Non League pyramid has become a bottleneck for ambitious smaller sides, former league clubs and stalwarts of the Non League scene for many seasons. The two up, two down scenario simply doesn’t do justice to the standard of football, nor the potential of the clubs in and around the play-off race.
To finish second in your league and not be automatically promoted is an outdated travesty that belies the efforts of the clubs fighting for promotion. Even if we do win the league, should sides such as Dagenham or Tranmere have to stay put when they could also crack the 90 point barrier?
Even if it were to benefit the Villagers, much to my displeasure, it wouldn’t be wrong in footballing terms. Three up, three down is surely getting closer and closer on the horizon, and it might just be Lincoln City that bring the argument to the national media.
If (worst case scenario) we were to finish second and then fail in the play-offs, the whole nation will have seen our ability in our FA Cup run, and surely that level of exposure would reignite the debate about an additional promotion spot?
Furthermore getting League Two clubs to vote on it is ludicrous in the extreme. That’s akin to getting turkeys to vote on a change to the Christmas dinner menu. They’re only ever going to vote in favour of themselves.
So there we have it, I have agreed with Dale Vince. Wonders never cease.