Championship and League One set for D-Day votes this week

Championship and League One set for D-Day votes this week to decide how to end the season while League Two could be FORCED to relegate Stevenage despite voting for them to stay up

  • The Championship and League One will decide how to end season this week
  • While League Two could be forced to relegate Stevenage to the National League
  • Rochdale boss David Bottomley agrees that League One season should end now
  • The EFL is likely to present the two unresolved divisions with a series of options 

The Championship and League One are set for D-Day votes this week to determine exactly how to end their respective seasons.

And League Two could be ordered to relegate Stevenage to the National League despite their indicative vote for finishing the season on points per game, with a play-off tournament for promotion but without relegating the bottom club.

The EFL is likely to present the two unresolved divisions with a series of options, such as playing on, or ending the season now but continuing with the play offs, or ending the season now with the top three to go up.

League Two could relegate Stevenage to the National League despite their indicative vote

Clubs will vote until they have reached a 50 per cent majority on one option, with an option dropping off the ballot paper until a majority is reached.

The huge additional costs of testing players means that it’s likely that only the Championship will restart.

Even there opinion is divided but with Premier League clubs such as Norwich suggesting it would be unfair to promote clubs if the Premier League concludes and the Championship doesn’t, there may will be a will to play on to ensure the principle of promotion isn’t compromised.

And in order to maintain sporting integrity of promotion and relegation, which is essential to the EFL if they want three clubs to be promoted to the Premier League this season, it is unlikely that League Two’s indicative vote to save Stevenage will ultimately be upheld.

The entire EFL will vote on the final decisions and there is little chance they will spare clubs relegation, as it would allow the Premier League to argue they could do the same.

There is a suggestion that parachute payments to relegated clubs could be extended to those going down into League One, League Two and the National League to alleviate the financial damage whilst marinating the principle of relegation, so important to the EFL. That again, would require the consent and financial contribution from EFL clubs.

At present, the majority of Premier League clubs, the FA – who retain a golden share in the Premier League – and TV companies are insisting that there will be relegation in the Premier League even if the season was curtailed. But for the EFL to endorse a no relegation policy would leave the Championship hugely compromised.

League One looks likely to go the same way as League Two, despite the impasse of Friday’s meeting. It seems unlikely the rebel seven in League One can get another four votes to ensure play continues, meaning they are most likely to finish the season now with the options of four clubs competing in the plays off.

The only discussion then would be over whether to use points per game or weighted points per game, which is hugely contentious: Wycombe would join Oxford, Portsmouth and Fleetwood in the plays off under the former system and Peterborough would replace Wycombe under the latter system

Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley said League One clubs should end the season

On Saturday, Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley underlined a desire for League One clubs to end the season and not make decisions ‘stemming from financial greed’.

Bottomley, talking to Rochdale’s website, said: ‘While we do remain very much behind the collective, we have, as a club, fully earned the right to compete in the same league as many more illustrious and historically successful clubs who for various reasons are now plying their trade in the third tier of the greatest league competition in the world.

‘We will act as a fully responsible member of that collective group, and act with what we see as the best interests of our national sport and not decisions that potentially are made stemming from financial greed.’

Peterborough United, Oxford United, Sunderland, Fleetwood, Portsmouth and Ipswich Town released a joint statement on Thursday saying they had ‘no desire for voiding the season, points-per-game scenarios or letting a computer decide our footballing fate’. They were understood to have been joined by another club echoing that sentiment on Friday.

The seven clubs who wanted to carry on would need 51percent of the overall vote to pass it through. That is not the overall mood from club managers at the moment , who have also met.

Bottomley said the logistics and financial implications of completing the season meant League One teams should follow the lead of League Two clubs to allow ‘sensible planning’ for the 2020-21 season.

‘With every day that slips by the likelihood of allowing players a three-week mini pre-season … and then resumption and finish of season by 31 July (for player contract reasons) diminishes. We also believe that the potential excessive costs of testing staff and players twice per week, the ability to travel to away games whilst observing social distancing and the very clear moral issue of why can the football industry be tested at a time when clearly those tests are not available to all key workers, make it even more difficult to resume.’

The acrimony in League One is in stark contrast to League Two, where Friday’s meeting was consensual with a unanimous decision to end the season and proceed to the play offs, supported even by Port Vale, who are one point off the play offs. Vale owner Carol Shahanan was said to have been magnanimous in accepting that the decision was the best for all clubs and was widely praised. However, though there was a large majority voting for no relegation for Stevenage – Barrow will still come up from the National League as Bury have dropped out of the league for financial reasons – that decision may get overturned, as all decisions have to be ratified by the EFL.

The Premier League will be looking on closely if the EFL decided that clubs should not be relegated on the basis of a curtailed season but insist on three clubs still going up to the Premier League. As such, Stevenage may be relegated but be offered a parachute payment to offset the devastating £1million loss.

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