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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
League gets revamp
Division One is to be known as The Championship as the Football League looks to raise the profile of the three tiers below the Premiership.

Divisions Two and Three will be re-named League One and League Two.

With the top flight dominating media and public attention, the League hopes the changes will boost awareness.

"The Championship is a term steeped in the history of the League. It will place a new emphasis on its status," chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney said.

The standard of football in the lower divisions has been heavily criticised in recent years.

Teams promoted from Division One have struggled to survive in the Premiership - Wolves and Leicester suffered instant relegation last season.

But Mawhinney is a firm fan of 'The Championship' and wants to build on the fact that the League enjoyed its best attendances in 40 years last term.

"Not only is it a gateway to the Premiership, it is one of Europe's leading league competitions, in terms of the standard of football, the stadia and the numbers of supporters attending," he insisted.

"We want our games to become ever more attractive, not only to our core audience, but also to a new generation of youngsters on the brink of discovering the game.

"We also want a commercial audience to be encouraged to re-evaluate its perception of the League."

Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks also backed the rebranding of the lower leagues.

"No-one is short-sighted enough to believe that we will close the gap on the Premiership but the long-term aim is to build revenue.

"It's not a sell-out, not at all. You've got to start somewhere. We've got a top sponsor, as well as the Carling Cup and the LDV competition.

"It's a whole new world, we've got to get out there and try and make some money for the clubs."

Milwall chairman Theo Paphitis also backed the move.

"The extra sponsorship money from Coca Cola will go directly to the clubs but the re-branding will allow us to market ourselves which will bring in more revenue," he said.

"The whole point is to close that gap between the Football League and the Premier League.




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