Representatives of League One and League Two clubs have met today by division where they have shared a wide range of comprehensive views in respect of how the 2019/20 season is concluded.
The rationale for playing the remaining matches has been fully debated with a particular focus on the issues COVID-19 has created in respect of health and wellbeing, ongoing testing requirements, player registration issues and the financial burdens clubs already face at this difficult time.
In the event of a curtailment of the season, the EFL Board outlined how this could be addressed through a framework that includes maintaining the principle of promotion and relegation, league tables to be determined via unweighted points per game (PPG) and Play-Offs to remain in every division to determine the final promotion place.
The EFL Board, whose aspiration has always been to conclude the 2019/20 season by completing the remaining fixtures, has previously stated that any decision on how to conclude the season is a matter for clubs to determine in their respective divisions and, as a result of today’s discussions, the following update can be provided:
Having considered the protocols and costs that would be required to be met to conclude the current season, League Two clubs have unanimously indicated a preferred direction of travel to curtail the campaign in line with the framework outlined by the EFL Board.
In addition, clubs asked for consideration to be given to suspending relegation to the National League for 2019/20 as a result of circumstances created where fixtures cannot be completed. No commitments were made in this respect and the Board will now consider the implications of the division’s preferred approach at their next meeting.
There were varied views shared in League One and it was determined that there would be a further period of reflection and consultation to understand what creative solutions could be implemented. It was acknowledged that the need to find innovative and creative solutions was of paramount importance as was the need for decisions to be taken quickly.
In addition, Championship clubs met earlier this week and have indicated that it is their wish to play on and conclude the season.
The EFL will continue to work with all its members to progress the discussions and arrive at the necessary decisions as appropriate in what remain challenging and complex circumstances.
Giving his immediate response, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “The uncertainty over completing the 2019/20 season has been huge, as I have explained in my previous updates.
“We are pleased to see a major step forward has been taken today.
“League Two was totally united in its opinion, which is very unusual. The safety issues in completing the 19/20 season came into sharp focus, with the guidance on returning to training issued earlier this week.
“Our ability to provide the safe environment required would have been hugely challenging practically, even without considering the costs.
“The costs were very significant, and training sessions would have been highly restricted.
“Issues of safety, practicality, costs and timing have all increasingly made completing 19/20 unviable. We supported the season being curtailed.”
“We will now not be able to play the remaining games of the 2019/20 season,” he continued. “We need to address the consequences for our season ticket holders who will miss out on games they have paid for.
“The same applies for our commercial sponsors. They have supported us and paid for a full season, but they have not received that. This is a further challenge for the club to deal with.
“It will be a difficult task in the current circumstances, but we will give a further update on how we will deal with it as soon as we possibly can.
“We can now start to look ahead firmly to season 20/21, and all the challenges that will bring, starting with the release of the club’s retained and released list later today.”
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