Gary Johnson: Why going back to ‘regionalisation’ is not the answer

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK - Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK

I don't know about you, but as we all tackle another week in lockdown, it seems to me that there are people, in football at least, painting a very gloomy picture about the future.

They're struggling to come up with quick answers to tough questions, and the 'gap' is being filled by predictions that we're all heading down the pan.

One of the latest suggestions is to go back to 'regionalisation' for the EFL League One and Two with North and South divisions, as there used to be until the late 1950s.

Well, I don't agree.

For a start, I don't believe the League One clubs will agree to it. What boxes would it tick for them, financially or on the pitch?

And if it was such a great idea, why did they ditch it back in 1958?

They might end doing it with League Two, but you'd think that would need the National League involved.

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That's why I've been so frustrated at the way our league has drifted further away from EFL by their decisions over the last few weeks.

But even if Torquay United was involved, as we hope we could be soon, I'm not convinced that regionalisation would make that much difference.

I know people say it could be a saving, but would it be that much?

Of course it's a long way from Torquay to places like Barrow or Hartlepool - believe me, I've done it enough times. But has anyone driven to Dover recently? Richer clubs are still going to pay for overnight stays for most longer trips anyway.

I think football has changed so much over the years. I'm against the idea of 'watering down' the system which drives our game as it is now, and regionalisation would be a step backwards, in my opinion.

We must have the feeling that, if you are good enough and clever enough as a club, there is that clear route, with at least as many promotion places, through to the higher divisions, to bigger crowds, better stadiums and better pitches.

From my own experience, it helped to drive Yeovil Town from non-League to the Championship a few years ago, and the same thing, or similar, has happened at clubs like Burton and Crewe.

People are going to be worried about finances, which everybody is. I understand that, but there will always be clubs that can afford to challenge and try to reach their goals.

I don't think we should be rushing to make big decisions before we have to. That's why I'm disappointed that the National League ended its season before the EFL or Premier League.

We are eight weeks into this terrible pandemic, and even less into the lockdown, and already we are talking about ways of getting back to work.

If football starts cutting down too much now, and then suddenly the economy picks up and we see a way through this crisis, we will have left ourselves with a poorer legacy we may well regret.

Let's keep the 'cup' as full as possible, look after each other and be in the best shape we can for when we come out of this time. Because we will.