League One promotion race could involve eight-team play-off


A proposal for the final promotion spot in League One to be decided via an eight-team play-off is reportedly gaining legs ahead of Wednesday’s crucial EFL meeting.

On Friday, it was decided that the League Two season would not be completed but a decision was unable to be made regarding League One, with some opposing plans to curtail the season and others arguing they cannot afford to play matches behind closed doors.

That has led to Peterborough United co-owner Darragh MacAnthony proposing an eight-team play-off, with Coventry City and Rotherham United promoted automatically due to the fact they currently sit in the top two.

MacAnthony’s co-owner Stewart Thompson has backed these plans, and said it is an idea that is starting to gain legs among those clubs at the top of the table.

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“The solution is gaining legs with top 10 owners. I can totally understand why, after the top 10, you don’t actually care. A play-off like this is way more fair than weighted points per game or points per game,” he tweeted.

“It’s an easier straight up formula, because what do you weigh? Home, away, league placing, form, etc? Listen, if the bottom of the league knew their tab at the pub was being covered, they’d keep drinking. We’d all be playing like the Premier League and Championship.”

It is unclear how the play-off structure would look, with 11th-placed Gillingham arguing that they should be involved at the expense of Ipswich Town in 10th, due to the fact they have a better points per game ratio.

Gills boss Steve Evans – one of the most vocal over the fact the season should be resumed when it is safe to do so – backed the plans if his club were involved.

Evans told Kent Online: “I would trust we will give a good account of ourselves and perhaps even win them. No big clubs can get a free wildcard, if you don’t have the points you’re not involved.”

At least one club has pushed for the season to be declared null and void but the EFL has confirmed that will not be he case.

“The League One season will not be declared null and void,” Fry told the Peterborough Telegraph.

“Promotions will be granted. There will be play-offs, but as yet the League One clubs can’t agree on the way forward.

“The EFL board are meeting on Wednesday. They will then present the possible scenarios to the clubs and we will then vote on them later in the week, probably on Friday.

“My fear is the EFL deciding League One should follow what League Two have done [unweighted points-per-game, which would see Peterborough miss out on the play-offs], but that would be wrong as [EFL chairman] Rick Parry has said the Championship, League One and League Two clubs can make their own decisions.

“I know the EFL want to promote [current top two] Coventry and Rotherham and then have play-offs. I can just about see why Coventry would be allowed to go up, but promoting Rotherham would be wrong.

“They are only two points ahead of two teams and three points ahead of four other teams. Ourselves and Oxford have a better goal difference.

“Rotherham might go on and finish second if we played the season out, but equally they might finish eighth.

“Different play-off proposals have been made as well. Our chairman has suggested eight teams could be involved, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.

“Obviously a weighted points-per-game [which would see Peterborough finish in a play-off position] suits us if we can’t play on. It’s also a lot fairer than a straight points-per-game formula.

“One thing for sure is we won’t vote to try and scrap relegation like League Two clubs have.

“There is no sporting merit in that at all.”

Fleetwood Town – whose unprecedented bid for promotion has been led by Harry Souttar, on loan from Stoke, and Stoke legend Glenn Whelan – are hoping for a return to action.

“We’ve got Sunderland, Peterborough and Wycombe all scrapping for one play-off place. It looks like Wycombe are going to get it if they go points-per-game,” Fleetwood manager Joey Barton told Matchroom Boxing’s Talk the Talk YouTube show.

“Darragh MacAnthony is alluding he’s going to go berserk. I’d go nuts as well. It’s out of order. We’ve got to finish the league.”

He added: “I’ve got a lot of lads in our care who want to play. They don’t have a surplus amount of cash in the bank and a lot of them live week to week to month to month,” he said.

“You’ve got 1,400 players in the lower leagues out of contract. They’ve got no money in the bank, kids to put in school, mortgages to pay and cars to pay for.

“If the Premier League boys don’t want to go back because they don’t feel safe and have got the money to be able to do that, no problem, I’m not forcing anyone.

“But a lot of clubs need to get on with it. Some clubs won’t survive. The working class that football is…we need to crack on if it’s safe to do so.

“At some point we have to return to normality because if we don’t at some point the economy will fail and the football economy is already creaking now.”

Championship clubs including Stoke, meanwhile, are preparing to welcome players back for training in small groups from Monday ahead of a planned return to complete the final fixtures next month. Testing will take place on players and staff later this week.

However, relegation-threatened Hull City have written to the EFL and other clubs arguing that the season should be immediately curtailed.





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