Dave Challinor’s Stockport County side will take on League One Bolton Wanderers in their FA Cup First Round replay this week, but the Hatters boss believes calls for the National League to merge with the Football League are unrealistic.

Credit: Stockport County FC / Phil Mingo / PPAUK

By Amos Murphy

EFL League Three will ‘never happen’, claims Challinor

Holding third-tier Bolton Wanderers to a stubborn 2-2 draw in the first meeting between the pair, Stockport County displayed a touch of class beyond their current position in the National League.

A stuttering start to the season under Simon Rusk saw the ex-Hatters boss relieved of his duties last month, with Challinor dropping down a division from League Two to take the County job.

Having experienced the fourth tier as a manager with former club Hartlepool United, Challinor had some time to become accustomed to the ins and outs of the Football League, yet he doesn’t believe the proposed ‘EFL League Three’ would be a good idea:

“Everyone in the National League would be behind that, but the reality is we will never see that happening.

“I might be wrong, but if that was ever going to happen, it would have come on the back of all the troubles with Covid”.

‘Selfish’ Football League would never agree

Current Torquay United boss Gary Johnson caused controversy with his comments in a recent NonLeagueDaily.com interview, where he suggested the National League should form part of an ‘EFL League Three’.

Johnson claimed that as most of the National League sides are professional entities, the fifth tier should no longer be considered non-league.

However, Challinor adopted a much-more realistic approach, claiming the proposals would never gain approval from the EFL:

“From a selfish point of view if I’m a Football League team I’m not voting for three (promotions) up or three (relegations) down.

League Three unlikely to be given go ahead

Any move away from the current structure that sees two clubs from League Two relegated into Step One of non-league, would need all 72 Football League clubs to give it the green light.

Disapproving of Torquay boss Johnson’s suggestions, Challinor was quick to shut down the proposals:

“As a Football League club I’m certainly not saying to all those teams in the National League that are highly ambitious come and have a place in our league.

“Why would they allow clubs to come and have a slice of the sponsorship or television money they get.

“That’s not realism in business, so I don’t envisage that happening anytime soon”.


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