Gary Johnson: Football has big chance to look at itself and ‘readjust’ few things

The Torquay squad applaud the fans watching online before during the match between Torquay United an

The Torquay squad applaud the fans watching online before during the match between Torquay United and Dover Athletic at Plainmoor on Saturday. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

It sometimes takes a bit of a shock to spur people into action, and that so-called ‘Project Big Picture’ may just help to do it in English football.

The plan by Liverpool and Manchester United - cutting down the Premier League, stopping ‘parachute’ payments, abolishing the League Cup etc etc and all for a £50 million ‘sweetener’ to the EFL - didn’t take long to get everyone stirred up, and then it was dropped.

But some good might just come of it.

One word that’s been bandied around during this coronavirus pandemic is ‘reset’.

I wouldn’t know where to start on the world’s finances, but I believe that football here has a big chance to look at itself and ‘tweak’ a few things for the better. I’d call it a ‘readjustment’.

I know people say you’ve got to have change and, after the best part of 40 years in the game, some reckon I’m an old fuddy-duddy.

But I do think that the culture and depth of our game is a precious thing, probably unique in international sport.

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There’s a reason why foreign owners have bought into our clubs more than anywhere else - and it isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts.

It’s not a coincidence that the Liverpool and Manchester United owners also run big teams in the USA, where major sport is organised in ‘franchises’.

They may have done well by the clubs they’ve bought here, but that’s as far as it goes.

The devil is in the detail with all these things, and you don’t want to be a sprat to catch a mackerel from the Premier League. They give you a little bit, but there’s a danger that they’ll take a lot more.

There isn’t a lot wrong with our system but the more foreign investment comes in, the more those people want it to change.

Look what’s happened to the FA Cup. It’s always seemed like a group of them wanted a ‘Super League’ of some kind, and they are increasingly making all the decisions for everyone.

All through ‘lockdown’, I was trying to champion the idea of the National League becoming the EFL Third Division.

I really do think it’s that strong now. It’s very professional and almost all full-time, and it shouldn’t be beyond everyone to acknowledge it.

The EFL has got to change, especially now Covid-19 has exposed how fragile its finances are, and having the National League join, especially in a new relationship with the Premier League, would be a step forward.

It would strengthen the EFL, not weaken it.

Everybody knows that football as a whole has got to ‘readjust’ a little bit and, whether ‘Big Picture’ helped or not, it seems like everyone is getting a bit closer to some form of understanding.

It’s just a matter of how they do it, and also who becomes the real leaders of football in this country. Who is it, by the way?

Because if that unique culture and the values of English football goes, we will start losing supporters, from the top to the bottom of the game.

Finally this week, a big ‘WELL DONE’ to Rob Baxter and the Exeter Chiefs for their fantastic achievement in winning rugby’s European Champions Cup.

From the journey they’ve been on and now to see them as the undisputed No.1s should be an inspiration to us all!

Stay safe, and fingers-crossed for another big week coming up for the Gulls.