Jamie O’Hara says League Two and National League should MERGE to save lower league football after coronavirus crisis – ‘It’s a shambles, it needs to happen’

Jamie O’Hara believes League Two and the National League should ‘MERGE’ after the coronavirus crisis to save lower league football.

The Billericay Town boss claims the foot of the EFL and top of non-league should combine and be split into North and South Divisions.

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Billericay Town manager Jamie O’Hara has a bright idea for the future of lower league football
Getty – Contributor

He believes it would not only keep travel costs down, but would also help clubs invest more money into their squads and encourage more local fans to watch live matches.

The English Football League is at a standstill, with clubs still waiting for official word on the future of the 2019/20 campaign.

While Championship and League One side are keen to play to a conclusion, the League Two season looks likely to be shelved.

The EFL have today insisted promotion and relegation must remain in place, while an unweighted points per game system will be used to determine final tables if seasons are cut short.


EXPLAINED: When will EFL seasons resume? What has been said so far…


For non-league clubs, though, it’s even worse according to O’Hara, who has hit out at the ‘shambolic’ lack of organisation and dialogue from the top.

Non-league clubs in particular will be hit the hardest financially if they are made to begin next season behind closed doors, with many owners admitting it would be impossible to stay in business.

But O’Hara believes there is a solution to provide a brighter future for the lower league game.

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The EFL is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic with League Two deciding to cut the season short
GETTY IMAGES – GETTY

“I think they should merge the Conference with League Two,” the Billericay manager told the talkSPORT Breakfast. “Make it a north-south division. That’s what I think needs to happen.

“It would give teams less travel so they can invest more money in players, there’ll be more local derbies and more fans.

“There’s too much travel in League Two, the money is not there and players are going to lose out.

“Teams normally have a squad of 25 players, they’re only going to have 18 players next season, that’s how it’s going to be.

“What I would say to players out of contract in League Two is consider dropping down into the non-league.

“Play part-time football, get another job and you can make up your money. Play football for a season to keep yourself ticking over and get back [to League Two] when the money gets back into it.”

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O’Hara is not happy with the National League’s ‘shambolic’ handing of the coronavirus pandemic
talkSPORT

O’Hara also admitted the National League has been ‘a complete shambles’ with a total lack of guidance from bosses throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

National League clubs voted on April 22 to play no further league games this season but a decision on promotion and relegation is yet to be reached.

And O’Hara says there has been no dialogue at all over the future of the league, how this season will end, when the next season could start, and whether or not fans will be able to visit games.

Asked if there had been any developments over the last week, he told talkSPORT hosts Alan Brazil: “Absolutely nothing, it’s a complete shambles, mate, to be honest.

“It’s still a fantastic league, I’m really disappointed. We need some guidance, we need to know what’s going on!

“They’re still debating on what we’re doing about this season – this season has gone!

O’Hara’s club have used the hiatus to tear up their pitch and lay down a new artificial surface at their New Lodge stadium

“It’s ridiculous what’s going on. There are so many players who are now out of contract in non-league, and they’re now sitting there with uncertainty.

“I haven’t been given anything to say to my players who are out of contract, it’s ‘thanks lads, we’ll let you know if we need you for next season’, but we don’t know when we’re going to come back so we can’t offer them anything at the minute.

“We don’t have the budget, we don’t know if we’re going to have fans in the ground next season and we don’t know when we’re going to start – there’s talk of it being in January.

“So there’s absolutely so much uncertainty and absolutely no guidance in non-league at the minute and it’s an absolute joke.

“It’s hurting people.”


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