We haven’t really covered the ins and outs of the situation regarding the end of the season on the site, because it has been pretty much all speculation.
It’s been farcical really and here we are, almost three months since the cessation of football, with no clarity going forward. We’d be expecting new signings around now, looking forward to getting the fixtures in a couple of weeks, and yet we’re no closer to even knowing where we’ll finish or if there is still football to be played.
It is unlikely, but clubs are still clinging to straws in our division. Tranmere want to use a weighted three-season average to avoid relegation, but that doesn’t factor in the fact they will have faced the likes of Maidenhead and Fylde whilst Wimbledon have played teams like Blackburn and Sheffield United. Darragh MacAnthony, a chairman I have a bit of time for, is currently dropping the B Team threat to try to get his side included in some sort of expanded play-off.
The uncertainty and posturing will all end tomorrow at the EFL EGM. Not all 71 clubs are expected to attend the meeting in person, as it will be held via video conference call. 12 clubs must vote in favour of one outcome in order for it to go through, with Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart believing at least 15 will vote to end the season via points per game. Essentially, after all the arguing and fighting, it doesn’t seem we’ll get to see any more football, which is pretty much what was expected as early as My 15th.
The EFL have put forward a framework they believe to be fair, which will see promotion and relegation carry on as normal for the integrity of the competition. It may see nobody relegated from League Two though, as the EFL is down by a single club. The likelihood is that Barrow will come up to League Two, whilst Swindon, Plymouth and Crewe will be promoted into our league, along with the play-off winners. Bolton, Southend and controversially Tranmere will be relegated.
Whilst that is the current proposal, the EFL board will also review ideas submitted by clubs, which includes Tranmere’s plan to expand League One to 25 teams and not get relegated. We have also submitted an alternative proposal, reported as being an amendment to the EFL proposal relating to how points deductions are considered in any calculation of PPG. Ipswich have proposed an alternative play-off format if a normal season is not completed, which conveniently includes them, whilst Stevenage suggest no relegation from League Two this season should the division decide not to complete its fixtures.
The likely outcome is that the EFL’s proposal for relegation and promotion remains in place and Rotherham and Coventry City are promoted. The play-offs take place as normal, with Peterborough missing out, whilst the bottom three are relegated. There are no outcomes that would see us anywhere other than League One next season, which means the decision only affects us in terms of closure on this season and planning for next, as much as possible.
The whole sorry affair should be brought to a close by tomorrow, meaning that the next argument is how and when to start up again. Hopefully, the EFL will take some sort of lead on that, instead of letting everyone squabble over the outcome. Let us be honest, the only clubs who have been able to look at this objectively are those with nothing to play for. Note that the only club who have submitted a proposal that doesn’t directly affect them is us. Everyone else is serving a self-interest and yet we are genuinely trying to find a way through that is as fair to as many clubs as possible.
Liam Scully has already called any possible outcome the fairest of unfair solutions, saying: “Ultimately the challenge is that we are retrofitting a set of rules in order to get a sporting outcome at a point in time where we’ve all got some kind of self-interest.
“Our chairman coined a phrase at the beginning of this: we are looking for the fairest of the unfair solutions. No matter which way you turn somebody is going to benefit from this and, unfortunately, someone is going to be the victims of this.”