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Oct 24, 2008

Bolton chief calls for Premier League revolution

Radical changes to the Premier League, including the possibility of splitting the top flight into two divisions and blocking relegation, have been proposed by an FA board member.

Phil Gartside, who is also chairman of Bolton Wanderers, has suggested an end to relegation to the Football League, and has also proposed wage caps for top players, according to The Guardian.

"We have to start considering what the structure of the league is," the Trotters' chief stated. "It is time to look at two Premier Leagues - Premier League One and Premier League Two - and the way the finance is allocated."

He added: "You could have 36 Premier League clubs split into 18 and 18 and that would also solve the problems of the winter break and supporting the England team. It would even everything out and it would make it more competitive on that basis.

"We have already got to the situation where the three clubs that go down from the Premier League are usually the three that come up, although a couple of others might sneak in.

"I don't have the answers but it is certainly time for a debate - perhaps even on not having relegation from a second division of the Premier League."

The Wanderers chairman even warns that failure to act could mean bankruptcy for a number of clubs:

"We can't go on doing this - we'll all go bust! Currently the parachute payment is half of the annual standard payout," he explained.

"This year that number would have been in the region of £8million-£10million. The income swing we would suffer from being in the Championship would be £31million, so the payment does not cover the downside any more.

"The gap is too large. Teams who go out of the Premier League go bust. Not everyone, because some will plan for it, but certainly some will and it is becoming more difficult to plan for.''

Gartside also threw his weight behind the idea of a salary cap. With the news that Premier League clubs shattered the £1billion wage barrier last season, and reports that players have pocketed more than double the cash on offer in Italy, Germany and France, the Bolton man has changed his mind over the idea.

''I have been against wage-capping in the past but it has come to the point now where we have to look seriously at it,'' he said.

''When Manchester City go out and spend £30m on a player and then pay him whatever he wants as a salary, then that raises the bar for us next time we go into the transfer market. We have to look to see whether we can bring in a system of wage-capping, perhaps like they have in American football or Aussie rules."

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