The release of notes from the last Supporter’s Board meeting has revealed the club are in favour of ending the season prematurely if certain criteria can’t be met.
It has always been the club’s stance that the season should be ended in some form or another, but as discussed with the SB last week, it is now seeming likely the club will vote to end the season and revert to a points per game basis. The same method has been used to award Celtic the SPFL title, and relegate Hearts.
In the notes, it is stated that ‘Lincoln City FC would vote in favour of curtailing the season if the various challenges in resuming are not
overcome’. Those challenges are also laid out for supporters, with health and safety of all involved, cost of testing those involved and concerns regarding the sporting integrity for games beyond 30 June all factors to consider. That means the uncertain contract situation for some players and teams, as well as the implications for clubs with nothing to play for. It would be likely that midtable sides with a handful of dead rubbers to play could field youth teams and weakened sides to avoid incurring extra costs, further damaging the sporting integrity of a league beset with problems from the very start this season.
The notes also put on record that ‘ending the season on a points per game (home and away) basis is the Club’s preference’ if such an artificial
mechanism be required. One of the issues facing the club would be the testing needed for coronavirus should the season restart, something which would cost between £125,000 and £140,000. Other significant costs to the club include possible season ticket refunds, loss of matchday revenue and other matchday income. All in all, it means the Imps are likely to lose out on £900,000 of revenue which had previously been expected to come in.
The challenges outside financial implications are numerous, including the extra pressure playing might impose upon medical staff, who are still needed in key areas across the country. Each game needs a certain number of trained professionals on hand, many of which are also NHS staff currently working around the clock not just with the virus impact, but also picking up the extra work that has gathered whilst focus has been elsewhere. There is also the safety of players to consider, with diabetic Ben Coker recently mentioning how a restart could seriously affect him and players in his position. Again, how could the league restart if some players felt unable to take part? Where is the sporting integrity there?
Both Liam Scully and Clive Nates had desperately wanted to finish the season in some form, if possible, and a rebel alliance of six clubs are still pushing for such an outcome. However, with League Two officially over, surely the EFL’s integrity would be compromised if there were any other mechanisms than one that matched the fourth tier used?