Of all the stupid ideas in football -–and let’s face it there have been a few over the years – there aren’t many which have caused such mass condemnation as the notion of kicking relegation into touch.
Imagine, if you will, an eternal purgatory of Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium or trips to Norwich City for midweek kick-offs.
This is the doomsday scenario put forward by League Managers Association chief Richard Bevan, who claims there are many foreign club owners who would happily pull up the trapdoor to ensure their investments are secured.
On the plus side, Albion, Wolves and Villa fans need never tackle the dark streets of South Norwood in search of Selhurst Park again. Middlesbrough will remain that industrial plant you by-pass en-route to Sunderland.
But there is a serious point to all of this. Where’s would the motivation lie for clubs like Albion? Beating Wolves and Villa and hoping for a cup run would be the sum total of Albion supporters’ ambitions. Relegation wouldn’t be a worry.
Roy Hodgson takes his side to Villa Park this Saturday for a game that many older Albion fans will regard as the traditional derby.
It comes on the back of winning against Wolves – a derby viewed as the ‘big one’ by the younger generations and, certainly, by the majority of Baggies fans these days.
The Baggies boss has little time for the notion of doing away with promotion or relegation.
“It’s an obvious one to answer,” said Hodgson. “It’s come from America because they don’t have relegation.
“In the NHL, the NBA, the MSL, you have franchises. The franchise exists and if you’re lucky and that franchise succeeds and you end up top or near the top and if you’re unlucky you end up nearer the bottom but then you just go again next year.
“With all the American ownership there is – and let’s not forget that a lot of Asian ownership might be US influenced – it had to come up.
“Whether there are secret talks going on I don’t know. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me because these people when they invest a lot of money want it protected.
“The problem is when you’re in a league where there is relegation and promotion and in a league where top teams get to play Champions League – making an enourmous difference to budgets – it’s not surprising that they want a scenario where they can’t get relegated.
“It goes against the grain of English sport but it doesn’t go against the grain of American sport, where you can get scenarios where New York teams can move to San Francisco.
“Perhaps that’ll be the next suggestion that West Bromwich Albion should get a new franchise or owner and be moving to Barrow-in-Furness.
“I’ve not spoken to Richard Bevan about it. I think and am hoping it’s just him looking ahead and seeing what could be suggested. I don’t know if he has some inkling it could happen, I can’t imagine any club voting for it.”