Gary Johnson, Torquay United manager:

I think many of us will still believe it when it actually happens, but I hope you’ll forgive me for saying a little “yes!” In private. at the news that ‘three up, three down’ between the EFL League Two and the National League looks like it might finally happen.

It can’t come soon enough.

This week’s statement from EFL Chairman Rick Parry was the most promising we’ve heard in a long time.

He confirmed that serious discussions are underway between the two leagues about creating a third National League promotion place, saying the chances of it being part of a package presented to EFL clubs this summer were ‘ 100 percent’.

I admit I’ve wondered ‘I’ve been talking about this for a long time and I’m not sure I’m getting much support here.’ Although, of course, I know that everyone in the National League is desperate for it to happen.

But suddenly it has gained a bit more publicity, and it looks like the EFL is finally getting on board.

Maybe people have realized that the National League isn’t ‘non-league’ anymore.

The teams that have gone up have mostly done well in League Two and even higher, and I don’t think any of them have gone down again.

Apart from anything else, I think the EFL would want such strong clubs like Wrexham and Notts County back with them. And of course we hope that Torquay United can eventually join them.

By the way, I was annoyed earlier this season when we played Derby County in the FA Cup that they were allowed to use five substitutes in their previous games before we played them both times, while we were only allowed they allowed three, because the rules are different in each competition. That doesn’t seem right.

I was asked the other day if I thought Notts County or Wrexham would win the National League and with it automatic promotion this season.

Gary Johnson with Notts County Manager Luke Williams in Plainmoor earlier this month.  Credit: Daw Crawford/PPAUK
Gary Johnson with Notts County Manager Luke Williams in Plainmoor earlier this month. Credit: Daw Crawford/PPAUK

From a purely personal point of view, I would go for Notts, but only because I know his manager, Luke Williams, quite well, having worked with my son Lee at Bristol City.

It would also be nice to see our ‘feeder’ club (Condado) move up as they have signed a player or two of ours in the last two years!

But, even if you push me, I really think it’s too close to call.

I think both of them will be promoted anyway, whichever one ends up in the play-offs.

Both are potential League One clubs and teams. Their crowds, their finances and their results tell us as much, and they are already paying League One money in many cases.

If Notts and Wrexham go up, whoever comes down from League Two won’t be as financially well off as they are, which should give the rest of us a bit more of a chance.

It also happens that we play Wrexham at Plainmoor on the last day of the season.

All I hope is that they’ve either won the league by then or definitely know they haven’t, because we don’t want them coming to the party in our patch!

As a footnote, and I promise I haven’t been counting! – I have been told that our victory (2-1) against Barnet last Saturday was my 100th victory as a manager here.

It is a milestone that I am very proud of for four and a half years, and I am grateful to the players and all the staff who have helped reach that milestone.

But believe me, I’m still determined that there will be more in the future…


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